Monday, June 13, 2011

New York, New York II.

Writing at literally midnight in the city that never sleeps.

220. Having a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. 

Geluck is, understandably, still unhappy with the whole hotel situation. It is not the matter of how many times the same credit card is charged for one hotel room; it is a matter of the manner the hotel is treating its customers. On top of other things, he is asking for a room change. The details for this request are lost on me, but Anna and I are waiting at the lobby for him to move out of his current hotel room all the same. The clock is ticking, and we are getting late for the conference's continental breakfast. The green neon light across the road flashes enticingly. "Breakfast," it says. I suggest to Anna that we might as well wait for Geluck there. She agrees, and now we are standing in front of a row of bagels of different types, looking equally American and equally delicious. Perpendicular to this glass wall display is a row of oversize muffins, looking also equally American and equally delicious. At the sight of these, it all comes back to me. The three months of having, almost daily, an orange and poppy seed muffin and a double-espresso mixed with honey; then, two days every week, running late for class, I would leave half of the muffin on the table, whining, "I can't finish this!" and instructing CS to eat the remainder for me. The bike rides to House of Bagels on University Avenue, Palo Alto, where I would get a bagel with spicy tuna and a Diet Snapple, and CS would ask for a bagel with something boring like turkey and a bottle of water. I mention the orange and poppy seed muffin to Anna, leaving out the bike rides and the House of Bagels reference, because it probably would not make much sense to her. How do you explain to someone, the concept that you associate being in a country with a specific person?

221.  Conference Session #2. I am on my way to the podium. The chairman, also my boss as of next year, is unprecedentedly giving everyone my entire academic history, "...Universit√© So-et-So -- that probably didn't sound much like French... Gazpacho did her PhD at University X., and very soon she will be at University Y." This introduction is less because it is worthwhile to detail my career trajectory, but more because in this area-specific conference I am a new face, unlike Geluck, who is akin to the second or third god of the area. Before beginning my talk, I glance at him, currently sitting next to B., a female Italian researcher who has been in the game for a little over a decade. It has to be said. "...This is my joint work with Geluck, who is in the audience. In case you don't know him, he is the one who always manages to sit next to a pretty girl..." The conference participants, all of whom know who Geluck is, turn heads to see where he is sitting. To quote the chairman, "I knew he wasn't sitting with the Belgian female group, so I had to check where he was. Next to B., of course..."

Conference Session #3. Vacating her seat, B. is standing in front of the auditorium, about to start chairing this session. Geluck is approaching my row of seats. "Anna, can I sit next to you?"

222. "We've settled on Carmine's. Three doors after 91th street crossing on the left sidewalk," comes an SMS from Geluck, my current boss. Earlier this evening, my next year's boss has asked me, "Are we going to...," then gestured the glass-emptying motion with his hand. At the time, it made me briefly wonder why, out of all the people standing around, he addressed the question to me, but I said yes all the same. Now, as I am left behind at the hotel to go through Claire's tomorrow's talk with her, Geluck is giving me directions to find where my bosses are. 

Carmine's. Drinking beer and having spicy scarpariello wings with my current boss (Brussels), my future boss (Adelaide), and my hopefully-soon-to-be-colleague (Melbourne). The conversations are not what I was expecting. On where we were, or what we were doing, when September 11 happened. On why would you (meaning Hugh Grant, the idiot) cheat, if you were going out with Liz Hurley, but then Shane Warne did the same thing. On whom would you choose, Liz Hurley or Angelina Jolie. One chooses Liz Hurley, on the account that Angelina Jolie seems scary; another does not even know who Angelina Jolie was; and the third chooses Jennifer Saunders. Who is she, I want to know, if she beats both Hurley and Jolie. She is funny, but she is in no competition with these ladies, at least not gravitationally speaking, if you get my drift, I am told. I do, I tell them, and then continue drinking my beer. There is (also) a lot to be said about being in a men-only company.

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