I’ve reached the point where I’m increasingly blase about this semester’s deadlines. I mean, what’s going to happen? I’ll be on time? Yeah, probably. So I gave myself an hour to monkey around and eat a bowl of rice and beans with L. in front of Jeff Goldblum’s L&O:CI debut episode on DVR. L. found he didn’t have quite the magnetic screen presence he usually has. Though I’m not sure how much to trust L.’s analysis–what can you tell from a performance when you spend a big chunk of it slumped against someone’s shoulder, “resting your eyes”?

Who’s a smarty? Box of lettuce, some walnuts, cherry tomatoes and chickpeas, olive oil and mustard and pepper shaken up in an empty miniature jam jar, shake-a-shake-shake and bam! Salad for lunch! But when I reached into my lunchbag for my handy port-a-utensil kit and opened up its clever snaps I found to my dismay that my spork! Missing! Everything else was there–chopsticks, spoon, curious flat wooden knife–and I could suddenly see like a flash the spork in my mind’s eye, washed and put away in the drawer where it does not belong. I think a lot about slots and pockets and corners and cubbies, all of which I hunch not just precede but also in part constitute what comes to fill them. But apparently this does not work by magic. You have to place the spork into its handy slot if you want it to be there at lunchtime. I made do with the bamboo spoon.

Chat reference ran silent and unused on a browser tab while I ate in my cloffice and finally got around to reading that O magazine article featuring Jack Halberstam not as a theorist or an academic or anything, but just as somebody a straight woman fled to in the face of the collapse of heterosexuality as we know it, apparently the hottt new trend sweeping the nation. (Count me in!) It’s interesting to see what the article leaves under or even thoroughly un-explained–like Halberstam’s pronoun switching, or somebody else in the story who self-identifies as boi but is still somehow part of this girl-on-girl-action story. I guess the repetition of that ol’ saw stuff about masculinity staves off the strangeness for people, soothed by reiterations of oh, I was always a tomboy and I played with tools instead of dolls so no wonder. Dunno. Me, I’m embracing the strange along with Oprah’s readers–my salad had fruit in it! Whole grapes! Is it even salad anymore at that point, or just a chaos of food bits in a bowl?!

Some signs that I am prematurely aged: I prefer to drink my water warm, and I fill up little cups with peppers from the condiments table and eat them like a side dish. Then again, perhaps I am every inch what I ought to be, a thirty-something early-career professional woman: A colleague had a container of mini-biscotti during our mid-morning meeting and I went to town. Pretty much filled up on snacks. Still, I was glad for the closed cloffice door and the chance to catch up on the paper via my new Kindle, which I love. (Thanks, Dad!) I’m on day ten or so of reading the business section every day. Guess what? It’s only going to get scarier.

A brief rundown of smart things I’ve done lately: packed lettuce in a separate container so it would stay cold and be crisp on top of the reheated remnants of taco night; thrown enough signs to indicate that I would be most receptive to the gift of a portable lunchtime utensil kit (this bamboo fork is so large and perfect for scraping down the sides of my lunch container!); placed my nose firmly against the grindstone. I ate while gazing lovingly at a result of the latter, an article in an honest-to-god print publication. And while I also held the caveats to hand–it’s so short, it’s so obscure, it’s so feminist, it’s so Canadian–and know this piece won’t count for tenure or anything like it, it’s still the first time I contacted an editor and said Hey, I feel hunchy there might be something to this and she said yes and I read and I thought and I wrote and now here it is and I’m awfully, awfully proud, and glad it was slipped into my mailbox at noon on the dot on an otherwise tooth-pulling day.

What if nobody showed up? What if I just sat there and sat there and my watch turned over to 12:20 and then there wouldn’t even be any time confusion explanation anymore and I was just left there sitting all alone next to my dripping umbrella and coat, no book or newspaper even, just me, starkly facing the red curry with tofu lunch special with soup or salad, a spring roll, and a free can of soda? What would I do? I’d already taken a drink of the water she’d placed in front of me while you wait, so does that mean I have to stay? Or could I leave and meander tragically back to my cloffice and dish of familiar lentils through the park, playing sad emo music and running through every last time I’ve been left feeling like the first few pages of Light in August? Then my interlibrary lunch companions arrived at 12:15 on the dot and I heaved a hugely relieved sigh and we all placed our orders and chatted about our families and our libraries and zine readings later and robot culture and oh it was nice, nicer than eating alone.

We dished up in the kitchen and took our plates out to the table and sat around talking about where everybody is these days and how they like it: H. up at Gonzaga (go Zags!), K. in NOLA, A. in Portland, me in NYC, all the ‘rents still in Idaho. My testiness, under lock and key while we unwrapped presents and engaged in general cheer, made its holiday debut when my father suggested that New Orleans is the only distinctive American city. What about New York?! I said incredulously. It’s not that different from Chicago was his absurd answer. My top! It was blown! With that out of the way I just kept eating and eating and eating. The baked eggs were ‘southwestern’ and came with salsa and avocados, so I had seconds of that and thirds of the turkey bacon–so salty!–and finished up with a chewy chocolate cookie and the cutest little sugar cookie mitten I’d ever seen. It was so small! And sugary! And shaped just like a mitten!

I was already a little drunk and feeling full of brio so when the seven layer salad came out of the refrigerator I bravely stepped forward: I’ll dish it out! It’s got seven tightly packed layers–lettuce, carrots, peas, celery, green peppers, and cheese, all sealed by a layer of mayonnaise that does not count as a layer for reasons L. could not explain and then covered with layer number seven, crumbled bacon. L. handed me a big serving fork and a big serving spoon and I struggled through it. There’s no lettuce in mine, said L.’s mother. When we were finished with salad, we passed  the rest, platter after platter, and ate and talked while a ten month old pulled at our attentions. Nobody could quite believe it had been fifteen years since my first plate of that salad and its strange mayonnaise lid. Fifteen years!

Ever since they put up the signs promoting this show on the commuter rail I’ve harbored a secret, shameful crush on the leading man–sunglasses, stern jaw, swish Miami suit, spy, oh goodness gracious. I have no idea when this show is on, but added it to my DVR so was able to watch at least part of an episode over the baked potato I ate in lieu of lunch at the track. Belmont is not Saratoga, and I sure didn’t want to get stuck eating nothing but Sbarro and Carvel all day. Actually. The acting, shameful accents, and USA Network production values forced me to turn it off early–the thrill is already gone. I wished I had more fixins for my potato, but I sadly don’t live at the Boise Chuck-a-Rama.

At last year’s annual meeting we had to walk ten minutes to the dining room for lunch, so got the good news this morning that lunch would be held right next door to the conference room, in Regency Ballroom B. Since morning breakouts were held in the same room, lunch was a slow reveal: bowls of iceberg lettuce followed by fixins (black olives, tomatoes, cucumber slices, a giant cup of ranch dressing), buttered rolls, and steam trays of roast potatoes, cheese tortellini, beef slices, and chicken. I filled up on salad, potatoes, and buttered rolls, and sampled but didn’t finish the tortellini. I sat with S. and C. and a jumble of librarians I hadn’t met yet–B. stayed at her breakout session table and was missed. The introduction of new board members started just as I got up for a slice of the three-layer white cake with raspberry jam and white frosting–oops!