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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Serenity Now!

This blog (actually, my livejournal account which turned into a livejournal community of which this blog is an outgrowth) was orignally started as a method for me to be cathartic. That and a medium for preserving thoughts I may have had over the years have remained the core purposes for this digital abode. So it's days like this I'm glad I have it.


I was driving to class on campus yesterday afternoon, when a curious thing happened. The needle for engine temperature slowly crept up to about two hundred and sixty degrees, and the overheating light came on the warning panel. Not one to panic, I continued driving the extra couple hundred feet to my parking space, where I promptly opened the hood. I think the first sign that something had gone horribly wrong was when I could hear percolating noises coming from the engine, indicating that either it was brewing coffee for the horses advertizing has told me reside within its steely exterior, or the coolant was boiling off. I did the natural thing for a part-gay man like me to do. I ignored the problem and went about my business.

The first thing I had to do on campus? I had to meet with my thesis advisor. See, I started my thesis back in May of '03 or thereabouts, and due to my ex-girlfriend basically revoking my ability to do the internship I had shot NASA down to do, I was stuck in College Park. So I did what anyone would do: spent the better part of eighty-three days alternately intoxicated and working as a research assistant at UMIACS, essentially coming in occaisionally to work out parts of my thesis. So it was almost completed after an entire summer of that. Reasonable people (such as my advisor, who has been eminently patient as I have done other inane things) would infer that this means, a year and a half later, I would be finished.

Not so fast.

So I had to go in and inform him that, not only was my thesis not finished, but I had done almost nothing additional to it except for introducing sentencing-guidelines as a practical application. This made him... unhappy. He went very far in the direction of telling me that I was the laziest, most talent-squandering student he had ever overseen. Not all the way, but far.

So that was the character my day had.

To cheer myself up, I got an egg salad sandwich from the math deli (by the way - best sandwich ever), and went to sit in the warm sun with my iPod until class. I mention this only because that was the best thirty minutes I've had since I left Swarthmore on monday. Afterwards, I went to my human/plant coevolution class, which, as James put it, is "an exercize in digression." The class is immensely interesting, and the professor is a cutup. Certain quotes, which I assure you were much better in person:

"I've got a superior carrot, don't you want my seeds?"
"You just can't hunt with a baby on your back!"

And so forth.

Afterwards, I ambled back to my car (recall: when I left, it was boiling). I didn't see any sirens or billowing smokestacks above the garage where it was housed, so I guessed that was a good thing. So I got in, and started driving. I got exactly half a mile before the needle started creeping up above the safe temperature. So I stopped the car, put on my hazards, and waited ten minutes. When it seemed safe to go again, I started the car, and drove another two hundred and fifty yards, before it overheated again. I kept this up for two hours, before I was about half a mile from home. At this point, something just snapped. I figured "fuck it, I'll just drive it."

So I let the clutch go, hit the gas, and did the last piece of my journey at regular speed. The car was screaming, temperature light on, and I just decided that it couldn't hurt that badly, and I would be home soon anyway. An interesting thing happened right about then. The temperature light went off... along with the rest of the electronics. Including power steering. And brakes. For the uninitiated, this makes it incredibly hard to "steer" or "stop." Luckily I was close enough to home that I managed to drift into the driveway (much to the chagrin of the motorists behind me, as by the time I got there I was going 10 MPH or so).

Fast forward to today. I woke up at around noon to find that my phone was broken. Honestly, I have no idea how that happened. I just don't. I ended up having to have my car towed to the mechanic, where they promptly informed me that I needed a new fan belt. And a new coolant hose. Oh, and some coolant. By the way, did we mention...

Total cost? $380. Which is, at current, exactly eight dollars less than the amount of money I actually have. So much for Boston this weekend, or eating. So, stranded at home, I decided to do the only thing I could think of to bring me joy: reading the internet. As it turns out, my computer had other ideas and is presently more packed with virii than an African GLAAD meeting. This does not deter me, however, so I leave the internet and scan my computer with antivirus (which immediately finds 1290323 different things) and check the mail.

Now, I want everyone to understand something. At this exact moment, I was holding on by a very thin thread. I was like that guy you always see outside of a pawn shop at 1 AM with a paper bag, Dolce and Gabbana shoes, and a Goodwill army jacket. You just can't explain him, but you know that if you make any sudden movements, he's going to turn into a Jakal and bite your jugular. Or something. Anyway, the point is I was not in a frame of mind where sudden, jarring circumstances were going to be very good for me, or any of my loved ones.

So I open the mailbox.

And I have one piece of mail.

(Think: what's the worst thing that could happen at this point? Seriously. What's the biggest "fuck you" God could possibly give to me?)

A summons for jury duty. On Valentine's day. Juror #4484, your presence has formally been requested. I was honestly considering smearing my hand with monkey blood, and just sending it back with a big bloody handprint and a scrawling note about the ivory trade. Or at the very least writing about my day, and informing them that I would definitely be voting "guilty," even if Jean Valjean was the goddamn defendant. In fact, I imagine my jury duty going something like this.

Judge Mathis: "Foreman, has the jury reached a verdict?"
Foreman (me): "Yes, your honor."
Jizzudge Mizzathis: "How do you find?"
Me: (head turns slowly to the defendant, an 85 year old Korean woman accused of animal cruelty for cooking cat brains. Right arm slowly moves away from body with a tumbs up sign, which incrimentally moves towards a thumbs-down position.) DEATH.
Mathis: "... the maximum penalty is a $200 fine, brotha."
Me, to one of the other jurors: "This one is giving me sass. Throw him to the lions!" (indicating the judge.)

And then I'd of course be in prison. So I decided against that, too.

So when I kill myself, you'll all know why.

cranked out at 10:49 PM | |

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