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On Monday I returned from a visit home for my brother's graduation. That was all right--a high school graduation, done quite prettily despite lacking much substance. It was somewhat strange answering teachers' "So, what do you plan to do when you graduate?" with "I don't know."

The best part of the visit was all the people I got to see: family, a variety of friends, and Brian, who was fortunately in Long Beach for an archery tournament. Food, cuddling, and conversations were had, and it was good.

The trip back might kindly be described as hellish. I had planned to take a red-eye to Dulles and catch a small plane back to Charlottesville after sitting around the airport for a few hours. Unfortunately, the cargo door on the plane from LA decided it would not close for two and a half hours, leaving us at the gate. I kept a shred of hope that I still would not miss my connection, as I had a ridiculously long layover. When I got to Dulles, however, I discovered that a) I had missed the connection by twenty minutes; b) I had automatically been re-booked on a flight twelve hours later; and c) my compensation for this was one five-dollar meal voucher (I *must* have had breakfast already, since they feed you *so well* on the airplane, right?). Since I had no desire to stand in line to talk with/cry at a hapless customer service representative, I called my mother and got the phone number for my godparents' son. I hadn't seen him for a good seven years, but my mom had just visited and, I think, told stories about both of us, and he was happy to save me from hanging around the airport for the day. I'd liked him when I'd met him in seventh grade, and I like him now; he's a theater major, a year younger than I am, and gives out the impression of being kind and gentle.

We were heading to his house, but accidentally took the downtown exit and ended up in downtown DC. We ate at the American Indian Museum and wandered around the National Gallery, seeing an exhibit of works by Titian and other Italian painters of that period (forget who else). I was about to fall over so we went to his house, where my godmother was surprised to see me and lent me the guest bed to catch a few more hours of sleep. A bit before we were going to leave for the airport, it started raining heavily enough to cause flash flood warnings and start flooding roads. When we left, the United website said there was no delay; when I got there, however, I waited for another hour or three before the plane finally left, tired enough that I might have been able to sleep if the airline people had been able to stop opening alarmed doors, setting off the most irritating alarms I've ever heard: not traditional sirens but high-pitched, warbling whines. Eventually we left, and I was home safe shortly after--twenty-six hours after leaving my house.

Currently, I'm still enjoying the kitchen--made delicious french toast for supper tonight after making split pea soup last night.

In general, I'm doing all right. From my utter relief to have gone back and seen friends, I suspect I'm not quite social enough for my own sanity (it's hard with new people). The universe seems to be conspiring to keep me from getting out contra dancing, since the dance this weekend also overlaps with WVW. (Not that I'm complaining too much about that one, mind.) Instigating social stuff, like perhaps starting a showing of Firefly, also might help.

Research is all right. Soon I'll have a midsummer report to write (sadly, probably should start that one during WVW... part of taking the Monday off). I'm getting started on another project which may involve Shiny Instruments rather shortly, if I can show that I'm actually making a Reactive Species (TM). My advisor reminds me of my old journalism teacher, in some ways. He can be very intimidating (especially in group meetings) but I think is deliberately trying to be encouraging with me.

It's odd to be going off again already. I'm very much looking forward to WVW and the various people there, though.

Speaking of traveling, my end-of-summer plans are currently in flux. Not in Fluxx, though that would be neat too. (Rocket to the moon!) This may, unfortunately, involve dealing with customer service.

Since I'm back reading this summer, any book recommendations would be welcome. Fiction will probably get read more quickly; interesting nonfiction will probably be read somewhat more slowly. The library here is wonderful. The introduction we got to the chemistry resources, and the way that they're so well organized, makes me wish that the Mudd chem department did that. Would have made a number of things easier.

Off to the library now.


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January 2010


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