Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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I Went to DIA and All I Got Was This Lousy Continuation of a Post!

And, lo, Sunil did not know when to shut up, so Friday through Monday were relegated to their own post. The story continues below!

Tuesday Work

Another morning, another breakfast. This time I go to the food court of the Pru...dential Center and hit up the Paradise Bakery, which can make me a breakfast sandwich with turkey. Croissant + eggs + cheese + turkey = tasty. I eat while I walk back to the hotel lobby...and I run into Marshall and Nadia! Nadia likes the look of my breakfast, so I show her where I got it.

Both of us are going to the plenary session on the FDAAAA(AAAAAAAA), so we ride the shuttle together and talk about sundry things. As we approach the convention center, she says, out of nowhere, "Do you know where we're going?"

"Where we're going?" I ask, unsure whether she means metaphorically, figuratively, globally (to hell, in a handbasket?), or...whatever. "When we get inside?"

"Yeah," she says.

"Yes," I say with confidence, having looked at the map earlier.

"I knew I could count on you, Sunil," she says. I am pleased and amused for two reasons. First of all, I am to be counted on, despite her only having spent a matter of hours with me, a few days here and there. I am always intrigued by the impression I make on people. Second of all, I believe the noun of address holds a special power, one to be either feared or adored. It adds a very personal connection to the statement, and I feel that you have to earn the right to be so familiar with me, moreso online than in real life. And Nadia has clearly earned it; she has the ability to add an extra oomph to her sentences.

Her trust in me is a little ill-placed, however, because as soon as we enter the building, I find myself a little disoriented, and I would have gone the wrong way if a woman wasn't directing people to the correct hall.

We take our seats way stage right, and I foolishly write down the above conversation so I don't forget it. Nadia notices me writing. When I even more foolishly bring out the paper again to write down some expenses, she sees the transcribed conversation and looks at me quizzically, and I don't know how to explain myself.

Since the speakers are speaking, she writes in her notepad, "Is this going to show up"—oh crap, crap, crap—"in a comic book"—whew—"'graphic novel'?" I shake my head. Crisis averted.

Then she goes there. "Do you have a blog?" she writes. I nod my head. "??" she writes and draws a blank line. Part of me wants to just give her the URL for the currently defunct Protein Angst. But I feel like I've been found out! Defeated, I write down "spectralbovine.livejournal.com" and hope to God I didn't write anything too embarrassing about the Philadelphia trip (and know that I cannot write anything too embarrassing about the trip I am currently on). But I think I deliberately wrote the Philadelphia post—as I try to write all my posts—so that I wouldn't get into trouble if the people written about stumbled across it. All of this mixes with the secret desire for her to read my journal because I am way cooler online. I am torn between wanting everyone to read and love me and wanting to be in my little LJ hidey-hole.


We make plans to meet up with Francie for lunch; they're offering trolleys that go to local restaurants, and we have two-and-a-half hours for lunch on Tuesday.

In my data displays session, I see the young Indian woman again. This time, I sit a few seats away from her and attempt to strike up a conversation by mentioning that she was in one of my sessions yesterday. She does not seem nearly as interested in this fact as I am. I find out she's recently gotten into medical writing because her boss told her to, and then I just sort of give up because it doesn't sound like she really cares to talk to me. Like P.T. Barnum said, you can't be awesome to all people all the time.

The data displays session is awesome, for the record, but none of you care. Much like that young Indian woman. *shakes fist* Better yet, I see her all next day at the medical writing sessions, and she totally talks to some other guy! What, I'm not good enough to kidnap?

After a lot of confusion over exactly where the trolleys are, Francie and Nadia and I meet up. Nadia remembers Francie (by name, even), but Francie isn't quite confident Nadia is who she thinks she is at first; I remind her about Philadelphia and she's relieved. She didn't want to say something in case Nadia was just some random friend of mine.

The trolleys don't start for half an hour, so we walk and talk for a while. Once they arrive, we board one that takes us into South Boston. The trolley operator plays tour guide. Our destination is the 6 House, which claims to have a chicken marsala sandwich. It's right next to a demolished building. I don't think I've ever seen a building quite so demolished. One day, a condo will stand in its place, but right now, it looks like it just got bombed during WWII.

We take a table in the 6 House and get on our waiter's bad side immediately by asking for separate checks. He doesn't show it, but he clearly hates us. Especially when I ask for water with no lemon. I'm so demanding. To my dismay, there is no chicken marsala sandwich on the menu. I ask the waiter if it's some sort of off-menu secret sandwich, but, no, the sheet of paper was full of lies. As I always do, I ask for his recommendation and end up going with the turkey apple Swiss, which the description claims is "my new favorite sandwich." I've never had apples in my sandwich before.

I also order some crab cakes for appetizers, and they're fine, but not as good as Legal's.

My new favorite sandwich is pretty good. The turkey/apple/cheese combo is certainly interesting.

I don't remember the specifics, but Nadia and I are sort of joking back and forth, and I mock her for something, and Francie is totally amused. She says it sounds like we've known each other for years, that we could be brother and sister. "Maybe in another life," says Nadia. Now, Francie seems amused and baffled at my very existence most of the time because we're so different from each other, but I still find her perspective interesting. Nadia and I do have a rapport for whatever reason. Sometimes you just click with people, and sometimes you just don't. You can't really predict it.

Hell, Nadia doesn't even have a TV! How can I like her? She does watch shows on DVD, though; she tells us about this Australian soap opera she's gotten hooked on. I babble on about TV and recommend The Wire to her (yes, I've become one of those people). Also Veronica Mars, of course. A friend of hers has also told her to watch, and I tell her to listen.

Back at the convention center, we head to our respective sessions. I think the session on meta-analysis sounds interesting, so I take a seat. I notice MedServ on the other side, so I climb over some people to sit by her. After about twenty minutes, however, I realize that this session is going to be more focused on lots of equations and be way more statistics-heavy that I can handle.

  • statistics
  • genetics
  • talking to women
So I leave and go down to the session on networking, which is kind of silly in its "Ooh, have you heard of this thing called FACEBOOK?" and its "Let's run an uncontrolled experiment on LinkedIn." But at least I can understand it. It's the only session I go to all week with a difficulty level of Beginner.

The final session is about establishing standards in medical writing, and I was all excited for it, and it turns out to be terminally boring. This holds true for most of the medical writing sessions, unfortunately. Save for the awesome one on data displays.

It's entirely possible Nadia and I ride the shuttle together today. It is similarly possible that we don't. Actually, I think we don't. I believe I drown myself in music on the way back to the hotel. A man needs his rest.

Tuesday Play

I attempt to rest in my hotel room, intending to lie down and watch some TV for half an hour, but as soon as I get back, there's a torrential hailstorm for about ten minutes, and I can't get any satellite signal. I'm forced to watch the damn hotel channel and learn about the wonderful hotel bar and shops as well as popular local eateries.

At about 6:00, I dash across the street to Summer Shack, where I find Nora (noradeirdre) and Frank (Frankenbuddha). It's Buffista night! Nora describes her death-defying journey to get here, having narrowly avoided being smashed by falling girders.

Although we're still waiting for theodosia, we get a table so we can start ordering appetizers. Nora gets an array of oysters and a bowl of clam chowder, and I order fried clams and corn fritters. Because one fried appetizer is just not enough. The fried clams are fried and clam-like, a little gooey inside.

Even though I'm on the company tab, I can't bring myself to order a fifty-dollar lobster, especially because I am not ready to deal with a giant crustacean on my plate. So I get a lobster roll instead. The roll is Texas toast, and the lobster is in nice big chunks, so it's a good roll, but I can't help but think that lobster is kind of overrated as a meat. It tastes fine...but not fifty-dollar fine.

theodosia does arrive, and vw_bug surprises us by showing up along with Carrot Bacon Dude; the two of them weren't supposed to join us until trivia. They only stop by to say hi, though; they have dinner separately and wait for us at Kings next door. We even get an even-more-surprise visit from katie_m, who will also join us at trivia.

I notice that all the waitresses are college girls, most of them wearing baby doll shirts that, let's face it, are designed to accentuate the boobular region. I have a strong desire to pull a McNulty. But not with our own waitress, who is FULL OF LIES. Our food's coming right out? Not so much. She'll bring us a pitcher of water? Not so much. The lobster roll is made of lobster? Not s—okay, she gets points for that one.

The whoopie pie is apparently another local dessert, and I saw someone eating one at Modern on Sunday, and it looked like a giant Oreo, so I wanted to try one.

I love this couplet because it looks like one of those things where you have to identify what's different in the second picture. I get way too much amusement flipping between them on my camera. The dessert itself is not a huge hit because the inside is like vanilla frosting, and I'm not a frosting person. I like the chocolate cake part, though.

All in all, though, it comes out to be my most expensive dinner ever! At least that I'm reimbursed for.

We walk all the way next door to Kings for pub trivia. The others have secured a table for us. Unfortunately, vw_bug has realized she has work to do and can't stay, and Nora and Frank have to catch a train pretty soon, but while we're all together, we get a Buffista picture:

For the first round, Team Buffistas is five people strong, and we ace it. But the first round lulls you into a false sense of security. We do pretty well on the picture round too (I'm pleased to be able to recognize Denzel Washington without a head and figure out the theme linking all the pictures). Then Nora and Frank leave, and it's down to Katie and Theo and me, and I prove to be generally useless for the rest of the night. There are several questions where we name the correct answer during our discussion but end up going with a wrong answer. There are over a dozen teams, and they all seem to be pretty good. Even though we start out tied for first, we quickly slide to sixth. We inch up to fifth in the third quarter.

The fourth round is when Katie and Theo leave me to fend for myself, right after the third question. The category for the third question is "Broadway/Painting." HM. I WONDER WHAT THAT QUESTION COULD POSSIBLY BE ABOUT. Sure enough, I prove moderately useful by knowing that the painting in question is by Seurat, but I'm sure Katie knew that too. And the last question, which is only worth two points for us, essentially tests whether I know what a male bee is called. Come now.

To my surprise, going into the final round, Team Buffistas is in third. All I have to do is not fuck up the final round. And even though I get neither question right (although I get half of the second question right, avoiding a loss of points), I manage to keep us in third! By my calculations, however, a monkey could have kept us in third.

So, despite having contributed very little to this victory, I get to claim the prize, which is a hat or T-shirt. I don't wear hats, so I opt for the T-shirt. I'm allowed to choose a shirt worth up to $20! I like the greenish one that has the Kings Bowling logo on the front and "Boston" on the back. Oh, they're so much better than those lame beer shirts from Sunday night.

Also better? Instead of some manager dude, I get a pretty college girl. I show her the card the bartender gave me and say that I won a prize in trivia. "Congratulations!" she says and smiles, and it's like my whole day is made.

Wednesday Work

I am stepping out of the shower when the phone rings. It's Nadia, asking whether I've had breakfast yet. She's at Au Bon Pain. Conveniently enough, that is where I have planned to go for breakfast, so I tell her I'll see her there after I put some clothes on. Well, I leave out the part about the clothes.

At Au Bon Pain, Nadia claims the breakfast sandwich is better than the one from Paradise. The menu doesn't list turkey as an option for the meat, but I ask if they can do it anyway. Luckily, they can. I get it on ciabatta. The egg is poached instead of scrambled, like an Egg McMuffin, and while it's still tasty, I don't agree with Nadia on her assessment. She prefers the egg this way, though, saying it's not as runny. She grabs something for Marshall, who's gotten sick (the culprit is probably bad shellfish). She runs his breakfast up to him, and I wait for her on the shuttlebus. Unfortunately, it fills up and leaves before she gets back.

Wednesday is three medical writing sessions with a pharmacovigilance chaser. In between the first two sessions, I encounter two more people from our company. Really, there should have been a memo.

Today, for lunch, I will try the Food Court. To get there, I cross the floor again, popping in my head in booths. A man throws me a koala, and I attach him to my bag to show to Nadia later, even though he falls off at some point. I also use the restroom.

I am stepping out of the restroom when the phone rings. It's Nadia, asking where I am. Nadia is calling me at hilarious times today.

I scope out the Food Court. The options are pretty limited, but I saw someone eating a burrito out on the floor, so I crave one. Nadia, on the other hand, craves a burger, so she gets her food and claims a table while I wait in line in front of a British Indian woman and her colleague and/or husband, who has apparently never seen a burrito before. Do they not have burritos in England? Really, he seems kind of baffled by the concept, and she has to explain it to him.

My burrito is very spicy.

Nadia and I talk about things. The meeting ends at noon on Thursday, and we don't really have set plans. After having passed it a few times, I want to check out the Boston Public Library, and someone pointed out the Mapparium on Sunday night. So I'm thinking maybe I just wander around alone for a while and decompress. Except Nadia wants to join me, so that works too. I'm flattered that someone wants to spend time with me.

I see Compliance and Proj(Wo)Man buying food, so I call Proj(Wo)Man. She doesn't answer. I call Compliance and wait for him to answer his phone. I tell him to look to his right. He looks too much to his right. To his left, now. Slower! Dammit, to the right again! COME ON MAN I AM RIGHT HERE. Finally, he sees me, and they join us.

After lunch, I struggle to pay attention to a session, and after the first two speakers, I just give up because I am not getting anything out of it. I need to go lie down, which is what I normally do between sessions.

I walk to the room where my next session is. Sitting on the bench next to the window is none other than Capitulation! It's been a while, so let me refresh your memory: I met Capitulation on Saturday at the disastrous tutorial. I give her a "Hey" to which she gives an instinctual response before checking out my nametag and remembering who I am.

Once again, a woman invades my alone time, but I don't mind. We carry on a leisurely conversation, and I get a little rest and wake up. She says she's 43, which boggles my mind because she looks at least ten years younger. She tells me about her career and how she took a $17,000 pay cut to move from clinical to drug safety and doesn't regret it because she's much happier. I tell her I've wondered how I would deal with a similar situation.

"Are you good with computers?" she asks. I sit up and ask her what's wrong. She says she's very tight with the IT guys because she's always asking them for help with some bizarre technical issue. "My God, I've never seen this before," they say.

Internet Explorer is not opening for some reason. It's trying to run some faulty module or something. I poke around the folder as if I know what I'm doing, but I have no idea what the hell is going on. "My God, I've never seen this before," I say.

I pull out Pipsqueak. "What kind of music do you have on there?" she asks. Oh, all kinds. I play her the song I currently have stuck in my head and need to listen to, "Merry Happy." In return, she plays me something from John Popper's solo project, which I did not know existed. Earlier, she made me watch a song from Flight of the Conchords on her iPhone.

A man looks at her while throwing something away, and it creeps her out. I noticed it too, and I wonder how often I creep women out by looking at them. I'm more shy and furtive about it. Maybe they don't even notice.

Cap tells me about a guy she met the other day, a local guy from M.I.T. She was at some reception or party or function or whatever, and she started arguing with this guy about politics. They were diametrically opposed, but she enjoyed the argument. So they kept arguing and walking around and talking for hours. He pointed out some places for her to go and said he could show her around later. It's the kind of story that usually ends with either sex or murder. Later, we begin referring to him as The Serial Killer.

The Creepy Man looks at her again.

After our hour of bonding, it's time for the session. She has to borrow a pen from me, and I give her the DIA pen that came with the shitty DIA bag that tore within hours. Once she starts using it, she tells me it's a crappy pen but thanks me anyway. I think she's being too hard on the pen, so I give it a whirl, and I don't think it's that bad. Okay, maybe it sucks a little. It's not as good as my Prozac pen, but few things are.

Like Nadia, she doodles during the session. I point out one of her designs, and she says she's been drawing it since the fourth grade. I ask her to clarify whether she means continuously or continually (not in so many words).

When we're free, Cap joins me on my shuttle rather than wait for her own. I tell her I'm really zonked, and she's all, "Did you just say zonked?" She hasn't heard that word since grade school. I don't know what to say. I don't know why I used it. Is that what the kids are saying these days? I mean, they should. It's got a z and a k and everything.

During our conversation, she refers to her "partner," which I take as an indication that she's a lesbian, because when else do you use the word "partner"?

I've told her about my Thursday plans and invited her along. After disembarking, she takes a picture of me with her iPhone and asks me to put in my information so she can call me. It doesn't take for some reason. So I come up with the ingenious plan of calling her to get my number on her phone. It's this new idea I just came up with.

Wednesday Play

After transferring essentials like my book into a Quintiles bag, I book it to the bus stop for the 1, which goes up and down Mass Ave (I know). I get off at Central Square, where I meet spacecitymarc, last seen on my Veronica Mars set visit. There are plenty of dinner options, but I'm looking for something relatively Bostonian.

We enter Phoenix Landing, an Irish pub. I've had good experiences at Phoenix-named Irish pubs. Our waitress is a short blonde woman who surprises me by speaking with an Irish accent. I always associate the Irish with red hair; it gives me cognitive dissonance to hear a blonde Irish woman. But hair color aside, it's an Irish accent! So I eat it up. I ask about the curry chicken and chips, and she says that's what all the girls eat, so I imagine it's good.

For an appetizer, I order cod cakes because I like cod. I remark to Marc that they are, in fact, blah blah blah fishcakes.

The curry chicken is really good! I'm kind of amazed. It's just as savory as the menu claimed. Those Irish folk make a good curry.

While we wait for food, Marc describes the interminable Dave Matthews Band concert he went to last night, where each song lasted ten minutes, some fifteen.

After dinner, I'm in the mood for ice cream, so I ask if there are any good ice cream places around. There's a Baskin Robbins, but I think we can do better. We walk down the street until we leave the bustle of Central Square and turn back. Marc says he can ask his buddies at ImprovBoston (where I'm going to see a dress rehearsal of the show he wrote). As soon as he asks them, they respond, "Yeah, Toscanini's!" Which is only the most famous ice cream place in Boston, but it slipped Marc's mind because it's not on Mass Ave.

We walk to Toscanini's, and I try a few samples. There aren't as many exotic flavors as I'd hoped, but I take a liking to the cocoa pudding, which is like the unholy marriage of ice cream and pudding. I get a cone, and we leave.

Once outside, though, Marc decides to go back in to use the restroom. I'm not going to just stand outside and eat my ice cream, so I go back inside too. At at table by the window, I see a pretty girl, so I walk a little toward her to get a better look.

It only takes a second for me to realize that the girl is Felicia, a friend of mine from Rice I haven't seen in five years.

"Hey, Felicia," I say.

She's taken aback but pleased to see me. She gives me a hug. I tell her I messaged her on Facebook to see if she wanted to meet up while I was in town, and she says she hasn't checked Facebook in months. I ask her what she's doing, and she says she's "having coffee with this nice gentleman right here." I see I have quite possibly interrupted some sort of date-type thing.

We try to catch up a little while I keep my ice cream from getting all over my hand. Marc comes back, and to add to the wackiness, it turns out that Felicia's nice gentleman is friends with one of the actors in Marc's show. We have to leave, however. Unfortunately, Felicia is leaving the next day, so this will be the extent of our meeting this trip. But she gives me another hug for the road and promises to catch up via Facebook later.

As we walk out for the second time, I declare, "That was awesome." Think about all the things that went into making that random meeting happen. I had to go to DIA. Marc had to write a show. That show had to open the weekend I was leaving Boston. Marc then had to get me into this dress rehearsal on Wednesday. We had to take a certain amount of time for dinner, and I had to desire ice cream and not settle for Baskin Robbins. Marc had to blank long enough for him to be reminded that Toscanini's existed. Once I got my ice cream, Marc had to use the restroom, and I had to go inside myself as well. And that's just my end. Who knows what put Felicia at that spot at that time. Oh, life. I love you sometimes.

I sit in the front row for Marc's musical, called What Does America Mean to Me?, a deliberately horrid title. It's about a kid who thinks American history is dumb, so he's sentenced to write a 20-page report. Instead, he falls asleep and takes a crazy journey through a mishmash of American history as he sees it. For instance, the Lincoln-Douglas debates are done by Abraham Lincoln and...John Wilkes Booth. And they go on The Harriet Beecher Show (Harry! Harry! Harry!). And Booth shoots Lincoln, and that starts the Civil War. It's a total ridiculous mess, but it's funny. Also, the Beatles are Commies. And Pocahontas tries to seduce the founder of the town. Pocahontas is played by a pretty redhead who chooses me to focus all her sexual energy on. Yeah, I got a good seat.

The show is funny and clever, as expected. Marc's a funny and clever guy, after all. And the songs are fun! The only musical accompaniment is a piano, but that's all you really need. It's a dress rehearsal, so there are some mishaps, but the actors (who are all perfect for their (multiple) parts) go with the flow: this is an improv troupe, after all! The best is when, during a trial, a slide fails to display because the projector wasn't turned on, so the lawyer (a tiiiiny girl with a big, hilarious personality) mentions in her closing statement "the lack of evidence we were able to obtain."

In the lobby, I drop five bucks in the donation jar for the night's entertainment. Marc and his improv buddies chat for a while, and I'm sort of intimidated because, well, I'm the guy who never got into Spontaneous Combustion. One of them is very boisterous, and the only person I know in the place is Marc, and everyone else knows each other very well, so I feel totally out of place and Not Belonging. And they're clearly all funnier than I am, so I'm afraid to say anything. So I'm very quiet and feet-shuffling most of the time. It's very sad.

  • statistics
  • genetics
  • talking to women
  • talking in general
Marc drops me off at the bus stop; it's been a fun night. I hope his show did well; he said they might make it the annual summer show.

Thursday Work

I totally sleep in, skipping the first morning session because I know I won't pay attention anyway. I'd rather save all my alertness for the last session, which I actually care about.

After checking out and leaving my bag with the bellman, I wait outside for the shuttle. I notice that the woman I'm standing next to has the same name as the little girl on Heroes. I'm amused. She's also from San Francisco, so I tell her I'm also from the Bay Area. I mention that I met some other women from a Bay Area company. Molly recognizes the name of the company and asks, "[Capitulation]?" Why yes! They used to work together. Man, this is a small industry.

She sits in front of me on the shuttle, and we chat a bit on the way. I can't tell whether her accent is British or Australian.

It turns out she's also a medical writer, and we're both going to the session on emerging documents. It's a pretty good session. We exchange cards before we leave, my last networking incident of the meeting.

Because it's finally over, baby.

Thursday Play

I go into the nearest restroom and change into my newly won Kings Bowling shirt. I figure I should give it some airtime in Boston.

I call Nadia. She's already on a shuttle back to the hotel. I tell her I'm on my way.

I call Capitulation. She doesn't seem to know who I am, so I identify myself. Her iPhone is totally screwy; the record of my call yesterday is gone. She meets me at the shuttle just in time.

On the way, we talk about people and whether we think they're good or not. She thinks most people are crap, but I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. We discuss relative intelligence, and when I tell her I stopped thinking I was smart years ago, she says that of course I was smart, she wouldn't be talking to me otherwise. I observe that she's probably spent more time with The Serial Killer than she's spent with me. I use the word "thingamajig," and she reacts the same way she did to "zonked." Now she wonders how old I am, so I ask her to guess...and she manages to nail it in one.

"Do you ever wonder how much more amazing you would be if you didn't watch so much TV?" she asks.

"Oh, so much less amazing," I reply immediately. And I mean it. I've never thought about it, but...well, maybe I would be a different kind of amazing. Wait a second, this is all based on the idea that I am amazing at all. Whatever, Cap.

Out of nowhere, she tells me I have nice teeth. I give credit to my braces, but she says there are people with braces who don't have nice teeth. A co-worker of mine told me I had nice teeth in her first couple days of knowing me, too. I'm not sure what's so nice about my teeth.

Nadia was starving, so she had lunch without us. I lead Cap to Chilli Duck, a nearby Thai place that looked appealing. When we're seated, I see it's very highly rated by Zagat and Yelp and various other people who rate things.

For an appetizer, I get the Golden Bag, which seems to be a magical fried bag of chicken and shrimp with a sweet dipping sauce. It's very good. Cap gets motherfucking larb. Hers isn't so bad, actually.

Although many things on the menu look good, I order the titular chili duck, and it's very good, much better than the crispy duck from Typhoon.

While I'm eating, Cap remarks, "You're a funny guy." I don't know what I'm doing that's so funny. "You're peculiar," she says. I feel like Rory Gilmore.

Nadia meets us outside the Pru...dential Center, and we walk to the Boston Public Library, which is ginormous. Our first stop is the basement, which is full of...VHS tapes. So many videotapes! It's crazy. Nadia recognizes some of the PBS specials. They also have tons of audiobooks. Nadia thinks they may have 8-tracks, but the guy working down there says no. In fact, they just got rid of their collection of LPs! Aw. I tell him that LP sales are actually on the rise, but he doesn't believe me. No, he really doesn't believe me. He thinks I'm joking, but I'm not! Stop it, dude! I am telling you the truth! Why don't you believe me?! TEN PERCENT OF THE TIME, I AM BEING SERIOUS.

We marvel at the shelves of the New York Times in Braille. And then I find some children's books in Braille. Like Arthur's Nose! And it's so cool because there's a plastic overlay with the Braille, and on the pages where Arthur tries on different noses, they replicate the shapes of the noses in raised dots as well.

On the mezzanine, there are foreign language books. And, oh my God, it's kind of amazing. For instance, do you know what the fuck language this is? Click and take a closer look:

It's motherfucking Albanian. I don't even know where Albania is, let alone the fact that they have their own diaeresis-obsessed language. The BPL has so many books in so many different languages, and Catherine Coulter is everywhere.

Did you know that Finnish is insane? Because it is.

I find the Gujarati and Hindi sections and try to read some stuff. I don't know what I'm reading, but I can say it. It's cool to see those books in a library, though!

Downstairs again, after Nadia and Cap use the restroom, we discover a mural with no heads. That is, it's one of those things where you stick your head in to be other characters. So of course we take a bunch of pictures, and Nadia is very impressed with how well I fit; I even look in the right direction and have the right expression. The two of them get to be angels, Nadia the Angel of the Three Chicken Wings.

Oh my goodness, I haven't updated you on my adventures in investigating a stranger's sexuality. So, after I decided Cap was a lesbian, she said she thought Ryan Adams was really hot. Well, that didn't necessarily mean she wasn't gay. Later, though, I hear her refer to her "partner, life partner," whatever. I listen for pronouns. And then she calls him Gary. So. The lesson here is that "partner" doesn't necessarily mean "gay." Carry on.

Nadia and Cap both thank me for bringing them along on my library trip, as they both wanted to check it out but probably wouldn't have done it on their own.

Outside, we score some free ice cream! M&Ms has a new ice cream treat, and it's just what we need. They even have stupid jokes on them! Aw.

It's at this point that Cap departs, but she lives in the East Bay and thinks I should come over for a BBQ sometime, and I received confirmation today that The Serial Killer let her live, so we're good.

Nadia and I walk back to the hotel, and I call Sydney 1. I haven't spoken to her in a year, but she's happy to hear from me. I hand the phone to Nadia so they can catch up. As I said before, I'm glad I wasn't the only one who left Philadelphia feeling glad to have met these people.

Marshall is taking a shower when we get to the hotel room. Nadia has to hand him his clothes. She also hands him M&Ms ice cream! After he gets dressed.

We head to the Mapparium...which is just about to close. And costs money! Man, I don't want to pay to see a Mapparium. I don't even know what a Mapparium is. But I think it's like a planetarium...with maps. Instead, we just explore the Hall of Truths or whatever it's called, which is lovely enough. Nadia admires the mosaics, and I admire the date and time projected on the floor.

Then Marshall and I learn all about Mary Baker Eddy's carriage. I think Marshall and I are on the same sort of wavelength with this place, kind of lightly mocking it in all its Christian Science glory. He's a religious studies major, and he takes issue with the statement that Ms. Eddy is the "Discoverer" and "Founder" of Christian Science, as the two concepts are mutually exclusive. And you can't discover a science. Or a religion, really. Nadia, on the other hand, appears to be much more respectful of the place. Although even she seems to raise an eyebrow at the display of Mary Baker Eddy's hat. I raise an eyebrow at the display of her driver's hat.

We're walking toward the Christian Science church next door when I hear my name: "Sunil!" It's Emily!! (This was a pre-arranged meeting, naturally.) She is wearing a nice hat.

Introductions are made. Emily suggests we walk down Newbury Street. It's a great suggestion, as Newbury Street is like a totally different world from Boylston Street. It's full of interesting shops and restaurants, including B Good, which features "real fries" that are baked. We mark it for dinner.

Emily and I quote Avatar at each other, as we are wont to do when we're together nowadays.

The street dumps us into the Public Garden, so I take us to the duck statues. On the way, Emily discovers that Marshall's cousin is a kindred spirit, a baritone who loves opera...at the University of Indiana, which is where she'll be in a few months. She gives him her contact information to pass on. This is what I do! I intertwine destinies.

We sit by the ducks and rest. Nadia says I can tell her and Marshall to shove off at any time if I want time alone with Emily, and we're both like, "Ha, we see each other all the time." Any time with Emily is good time, alone or not. Nadia later comments that she likes all of my friends that she's met. I tell her I do have good friends.

As we leave the Public Garden, Nadia relates the incident with the mural in the BPL and how great I was in them. She asks if I've taken any acting classes, and I say that I've been in plays and musicals. I feel bad because I think I sort of snapped at her, as if she's supposed to know everything about me, how dare you ask me such a stupid question, so I add the qualification that, no, I've never taken an acting class, so I'm not very good. I was in a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, and the review didn't even mention me! Marshall says I should write my own review of the show under a pseudonym.

B Good is a nice little joint. I get a buffalo chicken sandwich and a chocolate shake. I share Emily's fries, which are good and crispy. Emily and I pimp Veronica Mars to Nadia (after we both yell "Nothing!!" to her "So how much is she like Nancy Drew?"). We discuss Radiohead after hearing a couple songs on the PA.

Emily has to leave, so I give her a hug, and she runs for a bus.

Nadia notices me looking at her while Marshall is in the restroom. I tell her that our yearly meet-up is almost over. She says she hopes it's not a year before we see each other again. If I'm ever in North Carolina, she has a couple awesome guest rooms.

Nadia, Marshall, and I walk back to the hotel. Nadia and I compare bellies; she says that would make a good picture. Marshall is coming to San Jose for a conference in a couple weeks, and I tell him Nadia has my number if he wants to meet up.

I take a cab to the airport with plenty of time before my flight from Boston. Which was ostensibly about attending a meeting and learning about drug safety. And I did some of that, but life is more than that.

It's about Francie and Validation and Capitulation and Kyra and Emily and Nadia and smrou and bookie85 and erinkayehashet and Marshall and Compliance and Proj(Wo)Man and MedServ and noradeirdre and Frank and theodosia and vw_bug and katie_m and spacecitymarc and Felicia.

It's about the people. It's always, always about the people.
Tags: being indian, buffistas, ethicalmedical.net, food, girls, it's a small world, life online, lj friends, medical writing, my year(s) of (new) meats, not being a serial killer, personal, pesceducation, pictures, pimpings, real life friends, rice, schmacting, such is life, theatre, twop

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