I have been sleeping badly again lately. It goes in cycles, and whatever it is that has me waking up anxious varies. Yesterday it had to do with the time change. I had vaguely seen something about it but wasn't sure. Then I worried about whether the clocks would be set right. We have a supposedly auto-re-setting alarm clock, and I had my phone as a backup. But I never trust the alarm clock. As it happened, this time it did better than my phone, which rang an hour early, causing me considerable confusion.
Managed to drag myself back to the conference. It's not that it's so unpleasant, but it did remind me of China, and was definitely outside my field. Also, I was stressed about an application I had been putting off most egregiously. In the event, though, I did make it there, only missing one talk. I listened dutifully to the rest of the talks while devouring donuts. For some reason, my craving for donuts has grown to monstrous proportions. They are cheap and wonderful and comforting, but unfortunately terrifically caloric. I do my best to resist this craving, but I am powerless when there's a huge box of donuts being enthusiastically urged on people ("they're just going to be thrown away..."). I managed to limit myself to two, but that still comprised more than half my normal daily caloric allowance.
The conference drew to a close and there was a fantastic brunch buffet to celebrate. I partook in that as well, most liberally: scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, bagels with elegantly sculpted cream cheese and a "salad" of bite-size lox, red onion, and big capers, brie and baguette, small slices of steak with horseradish sauce, a delicious caesar salad with big curls of salty cheese, and a dessert table with cakes, fruit tarts, chocolate covered grapes (!) still on the stem, and so forth. I did forgo the champagne, but that's the only thing I denied myself!
After that huge meal I rolled down to the library and did a bit of research for my wretched application.
My good friend H was in town with her husband for the big religion conference, and after several attempts, we decided that I would meet her downtown for dinner at around 7. That left me a weird amount of time, a little too long to stay around campus, a little too short for going home. I decided to go home and at least drop my stuff though.
On the way I met two young Chinese fellows. They seemed a bit lost, so I decided to ask them in Chinese where they were trying to get to. Of course, they were more thrilled to talk to a Chinese-speaking white person than they were interested in finding their way. They were doing a year-long MA program, but had so far only been here a month. One was a journalist in China; both were from Zhejiang. It was a little nostalgic. After spending all that time in the conference where my lack of Chinese language skill was glaring compared to most of my fellow Americans, here were some people who were extravagantly impressed by my ability to communicate naturally. Of course I knew better than to feel too good about it. They'd've praised me to the skies were I a lot worse than I am. But I did have friendly feelings about the encounter.
After an hour at home I hopped on the bus back downtown. I had a to walk a few extra blocks to get to the restaurant. There was a sprinkling of rain, and yellow leaves were swirling around. It was strange going out so late. The restaurant turned out to be a very fancy steakhouse. Having embarked on the path of sin, I decided to continue along it. I split a steak with H, had a glass of wine, broccoli with garlic, several rolls, and even key lime pie. I was full to bursting. The company was good. H's husband told me the best possible bad news regarding a job I had been applying for at their university, namely that my application looked great, and if it weren't for the fact that they were looking for something completely different from my specialization... I was okay with all that. The company around the table, all Daoism scholars, was very jolly.
I walked back with H all the way to their hotel and we talked warmly. I always dread trying to set something up with her, but as usual was glad that I did.