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Making Friends and Being Swank Is Cool

All the grad students in my department got together last night for what is supposedly some of the best Chinese food in Columbus, at a hole in the floor called Joy's Village. It was tucked away in a sketchy underground mall. Was stuck all day getting an Ohio title and tags for my car, which took about 5 hours, so I ended up being half an hour late. Walked over alone from my apartment. Found the sign for the place above ground, but had to follow an Alice in Wonderland string of clues and random doors and halls until I ended up at Joy's. There was a strip-mall style sign for the place outside an impressively lovely hotel-looking building. There were signs in the lobby in Chinese and English, asking patrons for Joy's to take the "mall stairs." Found a grubby door in the corner with a hand-drawn sign saying "MALL"--went through and down a narrow, winding flight of stairs. Followed the main hall of the mostly abandoned underground mall, avoiding the strange, oddly-shaped alleys that twisted away from it to the left and right at bizarre intervals. There were sounds everywhere, but not a soul in sight. Turned a corner and saw the sign for Joy's way down another hallway.

The food was good--although it was a little spicy for me, so I mostly stuck with the broccoli shrimp I had ordered--although the rice was disappointingly American. I'm not sure why rice here is so dry--I'll use my rice cooker sometime and see if I have the same problem. If I do, I'll need to find a way to get better rice. Things ended pretty early--before 7. Some people went to the bubble tea place in the same mall to sit and talk. I didn't really want to go directly home; I was in the mood for social contact for the first time in forever. I hung around with Miki, Tim, and Chris outside. We watched the OSU Homecoming Parade for a little while, but it was less than impressive (the fact that their homecoming actually requires its own parade aside). Chris decided to hit United Dairy (or whatever it's called) for some ice cream before heading home. Tim and Miki got their bikes to go their separate ways, and I figured the evening was going to end there, when Miki suddenly asked me if I had plans that night. I said no, and she invited me out with a group of her friends for drinks.

They picked me up at 9pm, in the parking lot of the Seven Eleven. We crushed four people into the back seat. Everyone had heard Miki talk to me in Japanese on the phone, so they were all surprised when I turned out to be blond. Some of the people I recognized from the GTA workshop, although I didn't know their names. No one recognized me, of course.

Todd drove us down to Bristol Bar, which turned out to be an extremely swank place with funky furniture, excellent martinis, and a tiny back porch that ended up becoming the heart of the party. Most of the people there were from the language department, and it was so much fun, drinking and talking to other people about a love of language. Adele was there from the French department, and I got to meet Keith from Italian. Miki kept introducing me as "a good friend of Michael's" which wasn't exactly accurate, but it didn't matter.

I asked Miki what was up with her and Tim because they seemed awfully close, and she laughed and explained that he was gay. I was sort of surprised at first, but it made sense once I thought about it. Apparently Columbus has the second largest gay population in America. Miki told me that Tim said that most of the female bartenders here are shockingly beautiful and not one of them is straight or even bi.

I thought I had trouble finding boys before.

I got talked up by some poli sci grads and lecturers. It was strange, being in the middle of a circle of drunk gay guys who kept hitting on me. I just laughed and enjoyed the weird conversations, though. There was one guy from Italy, and one guy from Germany, and the former said that the three of us (since I represent Japan) should form our own Axis powers like those of WWII, but our agenda should be sex, not politics. There was a socially awkward American who seemed to be friends with them, but he got flustered whenever he spoke to me.

Met Justin, another poli sci guy, who was nice but distant and we didn't talk more than 10 or 15 minutes.

Tom taught us tricks for flipping cigarettes in our hands, but it was harder than it looked. I noticed that my fingers looked alien: small and slim and pretty. I should have known then that I'd had enough alcohol. He lent me a Marlboro that I kept dropping. I got it a few times and he lit it for me. I often resort to smoking when I've been drinking. Dunno why, though--it makes me feel sick afterwards. Anita got pretty drunk (true to form, I was informed), and I ended up finishing her mostly untouched beer. I know better than to mix alcohol, but I wanted to try the Le Fin de Monde that Adele recommended to me, so I had one of those after a salty dog (Goose) and a pomegranate martini (nearly-double). Anita's beer was what stopped me for the evening, though. I didn't even finish it. The smoke and the mix of booze wasn't sitting right. That and the fact that I hadn't eaten much that day.

We left around 2:30am--Todd chauffeured us to our respective homes.

It was fun, though, and I'm glad I went. It's good to get out and meet people.

Drinking is different now than it was when everybody had just turned 21 and was more concerned with the target than with the trip. Now, the target just seems to be something that happens. Of course, it could just be that I'm still experiencing reverse culture shock, and the truth is that it's more a distinction between drinking in Japan vs drinking in America, and less a matter of age.

I'm not hung over at all, which is good. Miki said she'd call me tonight--she and Tim might get together and go do something. Dunno if I want to go out tonight, though. I think I worked the social need out of my system after last night, but maybe it'd be good for me to get out, anyway. I'd better get some homework done before she calls me--I don't want to save it all for tomorrow. Grad school's not as bad as it sounds--you just have to work ahead to keep up.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 15th, 2005 05:19 pm (UTC)
Yay for meeting people and making friends. I find I'm still as reclusive as ever - much to my chagrin - but I haven't noticed that much of a "hanging out" culture in the department yet. We have a happy hour every friday at 5, so I guess that's something, at least.

Side note - my rice cooker works fine with American rice. If yours makes rice dry, just try a little more water, or try shorter-grain rice.

Oct. 17th, 2005 09:38 pm (UTC)
Making Swank and Being Friends is Cooler
I`m glad you got a chance to make some friends and cut loose a little. Really you should be doing this on at least a biweekly basis. I know for me, if don`t get out at least once a week, I start to get too wrapped up in my own problems and issues (which there are many). At the very least going out will give you some good material to update your Journal with (always good with me).
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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