a. If you do something for many years, it becomes a part of who you are. 12 years of biology for me, 10+ years of architecture for NJF, 7+ years of flirting for CKE. The daily action, the mindset, the instinct, the company you keep will inform who you are. You will take on ways of being and ways of seeing. Do what you want to be, because the culture will infuse itself into you.
b. There is a brand of cola drink in Peru called Inca Kola that is made with sugar cane that G's roomates say is really really good. According to Wikipedia, Inca Kola
has manage to out compete Pepsi and Coca-cola through smart marketing, low prices, and national pride. "Inca Kola - the taste of a nation"
c. The sight of G squealing up and over the airport curb was most welcome after a long day of travel.
d. Do not wear suspenders on days that you travel on airplanes. The metal detectors will not be kind to you. Nor will the axnious passengers waiting behind you.
e. There was hella rain in Connecticut. Like a great lake dropping from the sky. LaGuardia airport had many drips from its ceilings and CSHL's auditorium had one nice big loud one as well. (most distracting during a piano recital) Perhaps East Coasters should start building boats and prepare to pack up two of everything to take with, just in case. I would be sure to pack two drummers, two bass players, two crystallographers, two histologists, and two poets, two potters and two ... (Hmmm, I'd better make plans to build a bigger boat. I'd also like to take a full brass band in duplicate.)
f. At CSHL they have a recital during the conference. They feature a talented young artist of international reputation who come and plays for the attendees and for members of the community. Afterwards there are cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. For us it was Jean-Efflam Bavouzet of France. He played an evening of pieces by Ravel. Most of what I know about Ravel is "Bolero" in that ice-dancing routine where the pair slide to their death at the end. (I am not a big fan.) But my mind has been changed. Jeux D'eau, Miroirs, and Gaspard de la Nuit were just dynamite. I kinda wish that recitals were more arena rock so we could shower Mssr. Bavouzet with thunderous applause for hitting a particularly challenging passage, as we would at a rock show. Because he was the shit.
He got standing ovations and came out to twice to grace us with an encore.
g. I have been thinking about firsts. This trip had a few firsts:
I took the NYC subway by myself for the first time.
I ate a whole lobster. (I was complimented on my fine dissection skills.)
I caught the bouquet at a wedding.
I won money at the casino. ($8 on the slots. Yeah Baby!)
I bought honey roasted almonds from a street vendor. (They are better if you let them sit in your coat pocket for a few minutes. Crispier.)
At the meeting, a second year graduate student from Canada offered to be my first post-doc should I decide to open my own lab. (Mind you I have not landed a post-doc offer for myself.)
h. I ate at a buffet almost every day (sometimes twice in a day.) I have the waistline to prove it. I fearlessly stacked my plates into mountains of food. SD and PN actually complimented me on my ability to pile food on a plate at the Casino Buffet (last buffet of the trip). I graduated up to a new eating weight class.
i. Casinos are strange places. No daylight, white noise and the sound of falling coins, cotton candy perfumes infusing the air. Elderly ladies complaing about losing canes or having them stolen while gambling. People circling your winning slot machine in an interested and slightly predatory way. Do not go to the casino when you are tired. Leave while you are still feeling good while you can enjoy the noise and the novelty and the kitch. If you are tired at the casino you start to notice desperate expressions of the people around you who take chances but who cannot handle loss, the people who cannot afford to lose.
The casino is a calculated seduction. Everything is there to distract you from the fact that these games of chance favor the house.
j. Yes, Lever
are even more excessively cute together in person than they are online, if that is possible. Interspersed with lengthy dialogues about farting. They even bicker cute.
k. I have been twice told that Haggis is really great. (especially deep fried.) So now I have to find an opportunity to have innards in sheep intestine in the AM with my hangover.
l. I had a wacky conversation with NS who is smarter, weirder, and wackier than me. Later in the evening we were standing listening to a dangerous cover band called "The Free Radicals" who were playing the greatest hits of every generation after the banquet. He said to me,"Wouldn't it be great to be in a band like that?" And I turned to him and said, "I was in a band like that. I was the singer."
m. BBFK and I got a mani-pedi done at a fabulous nail place in CT. It's in a little strip mall and it has the most haphazard decor. But it has this really homey Korean "Steel Magnolias" feel to it. The owner is a pretty little Korean woman who makes you feel young smart and pretty. I could totally imagine coming in with BBFK and other girlfriends and having a good gossip session and getting advice about my love life and beauty tips on a regular basis. As if I was a real girl who carefully practiced beauty as a discipline.
n. I got advice on how to regulate your heat if you have electric heat. Close the windows and doors, do the caulking and plasticing and what have you. Set the thermostat and leave it for a good while. If you need to raise the temperature do it slowly and gradually. Turn the stat up one degree and wait at least one hour. And if you need to do that again. The biggest energy cost with your electic heat is raising the temperature of a room abruptly. According to SD who is newly a home owner.
o. Thanks to Noel I have the most terrific craving for corn soup. Right now!