I pass that taco place on my way to and from therapy but have never thought of actually eating there. Club music even at 10am! But S. suggested it and it was on my way so that’s where we ate. He’s been in Oslo since I’ve seen him, had many things to say about how we memorialize resistance. I hope we have some to remember here. 

The fog of this week slowly lifting, I only remembered to eat lunch once it got late, and then when I did it was in my cloffice using chopsticks, mysteriously the only utensils at hand. I meant to read my homework, but I couldn’t even get myself to do even that, ready to float off to some dreamland where there isn’t anything to do but novels.

As the rest of my semester floated past my eyes at the turn of the first hour of the Faculty Vision Task Force Meeting, my vision shifted from the Library of the Future to the Lunch of the Future, a lowly dish of rice and beans languishing five floors down in the tech services refrigerator.

Systems guy needed an hour to defrag my hard drive and I forgot my sweater at home (brr! nipsy!), so I hopped on the train to heat up the last of the rice and beans while gathering together the things I forgot. I rode the ten minutes home with a small family, mom and dad and a three year old wearing a shirt that read Big Brother and a baby girl in a pink jumper. The parents were trying to bribe the boy with a rice cake to sit like everybody else on the train. He spread out on his stomach, feet in the air, grinning; slid down with knees way bent, back of the head against the seat, eyeballs rolling. They strapped him back in his stroller and he started yowling. They unhooked him and gave him the rice cake and he sprawled out. And the little baby just sat there, staring at me with thousand-year-old eyes, having no idea how brief is this moment when you get to claim no stake at all in the struggles of family. I wished I wasn’t all out of sour cream.

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”?

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.

I took my rice and beans container from the little refrigerator located out underneath the circ desk and waited in line at the microwave just outside the technical services office. C. was heating up a pot pie of some sort, so I leaned up against the wall and talked to her and B.–lunch strangers!–about my first day so far. (It’s an awful lot all at once.) I had my tote and intentions to head outside but decided I simply could not navigate what remains a mysterious maze one more time without lunch–sometimes a mouse has to yank her head back into the hole in the wall. After about ninety seconds in the microwave (C. said it runs hot and fast, and she was right), I returned to what everybody is calling my office and snarfed it down while trying to figure out what graduate program I should try to enroll in this week. I saw the tenure calendar and already feel behind. Though that could be my generalized anxiety talking.

I’ve been living like I’m already off my morning commute even though I still have one more week to go, and that had me exhausted this morning. Considering that tonight requires my total rapt attentions, I decided to stay home and run some errands and take care of some things around the house and get some rest and rehydration so that I can settle as deeply as possible into the pleasures that await in East Rutherford. Having less than no food in the refrigerator and about zero desire to cook in this heat, I tossed a can of beans with some onion, chipotle peppers, and some corn and ladled it out over some rice in what E. used to call my hobo lunch. I listened to relevant music turned way way way way up while I cooked and then plopped down on the couch with the cats and checked into an episode of Law and Order. I am concerned that something dreadful might happen if I remain this excited for much longer.

MBWF’s husband C. was on campus shooting the summer dance program and his gig ended when I got off the information desk, so the three of us went out to lunch. MBWF had a Big Meeting this morning, but we were under C.’s strongly worded request to not spend all of lunch talking about it. (He’s only a freelance photographer, after all, not body-and-soul tied to the place like you get when you spend your blood at your desk.) So we spent most of lunch talking about the meeting. We also discussed family and friends and sickness and wellness and the shame of my desk shift: Mindlessly removing the page marker slips from a book that a woman asked me to hold for her so she could look at it again later this afternoon. It’s a reflex like breathing for me, pulling paper and sticky notes out of returned books. Still, I’m sorry for the extra work I have caused Margaret. As we were leaving, we were happy to discover that the restaurant had re-stocked the candy-covered mint chocolate balls that were missing last time we came here. I ate two, and grabbed a toothpick.

I am thinking the Valley has fallen on hard times. Every place we passed on our initial meander through the Holyoke Mall food court had somebody employed to lean out over the counter and hawk little paper cups of chicken samples prepared in varied faux-ethnic ways–bourbon chicken, south of the border chicken, cashew chicken, etc. After considering the too-sweet chicken at the the Cajun place, I opted for what I thought was the safe route and had a chicken fajita rice bowl at the Mexican place. I didn’t realize it would come doused in an inexplicable white cream sauce. Oh well, when in the food court… M. had a salad from the Greek place. I envied it. We ate at a table in the middle of the room along with the rest of the customers plus one man in a suit who looked quite out of place–he was eating lunch from one of those insulated lunch cubes, almost like he brought it from home–and talked about makeup and how I should really start wearing some.