how long is the difference between 'going with the flow' and 'losing to the current'?
anyway, today was another one of those days where i got thrown a lot of curveballs. see, there's a metaphor that doesn't even involve water, that's gotta be worth something.
so i guess to preface, you have to understand why i so badly wanted a distraction. i won't go into all the bloody details, but i doubt i'll have to for you to understand, either. in my first few months here, i met someone whose company i really enjoyed, and i got to like them a little too much. i think they must have picked up on this, because in the past week or so they've begun to treat me as though they barely remembered my name...like we'd met once or twice. this not being the case, it threw me off balance - badly - to suddenly realize that that's all i ever was to them. you know how it is. it was never my idea to like them in the first place, but after all this time, to understand that - it hurt. and i'll get over it just fine, but for the moment, i thought the easiest thing to do was take a break. so i went back to queens for shabbos, and on sunday i planned to sit in on my first debate (a friend of mine had really hyped it to me, it sounded useful) and then catch a movie with a good friend of mine (my radio co-host) afterwards. and neither of these things would in any way cause me to think of the person that everything had gotten so awkward with.
i had it all planned out.
obstacle number one. i get to stern, us girls - there are five of us - pile into a cab to go to yu, where the bus will pick us up. my friend who'd hyped it to me, and to tell you the truth, for whom i was going, is conspicuously absent. 'oh yeah,' i'm told, 'she's in toronto.'
the girl who seems to know the most about it is a girl from my english class who has never had much to do with me.
i pull out my knitting.
obstacle number two. the selfsame person who i have been trying to forget and who explicitly told me they weren't going to the debate hops on the bus. my whole face turns bright red with shame. i don't say much, which is ok; they seem to be much better friends with everyone else on the bus anyway. go figure.
i turn to the window.
ok, i think. so this is how it's going to be. ok.
bring it on.
obstacle number three. after two hours, we finally arrive at the debate location in munsey, late and short a few. the debate team rules, as my friend explained them to me, are that you have to observe one debate before you can debate yourself; this makes perfect sense, because there's a lot of form and tactic you have to pick up before you're ready to give it a go. i attended this session with purely observational intent. i brought my archeology study guide and my knitting to do between intervals and figured i'd have a little ball.
but there aren't enough judges, or something like that, and they need the observers to volunteer to debate, to even out the numbers.
my fellow observers and i exchange a look. none of us- besides for one girl who debated in high school - has ever been to one of these sessions before. we have no clue what we're talking about.
i put down my knitting.
ok, i say. i'll do it.
hey, why not?
boy, have i got an answer to that one. debating is really not the same as the more garden-variety competitions. there is a certain amount of stress involved.
still, i didn't come here not to try.
and my first debate will be against - of course - the person i was just trying not to think about for awhile.
this shouldn't happen, i think to myself, when i see the numbers go up. i came here to get away from my problems and now i've got to go and debate them. and look like a fool in the process.
like i haven't done that already.
but i don't want to forget my lessons so easily. roll with the punches- G-d will take care of it. so i could get frightened, but i try not to instead. i look back at the numbers, and back at my friend, and i think: ok, G-d. play ball.
so i take the first debate and i look like a fool. i have no idea what i'm doing and i stammer and i repeat things i know are illogical. and my opponent is very good - later winning first prize - and i try to think of him as an argument and not someone i know and don't always succeed. but i learn something, and even though i lose that debate, i do better in the next one. and the next one. i never win, but my points go up, and my confidence goes up. and i start to understand how to stand your ground when people are shooting you down.
i think it's worth noting that the final round, between the two top scoring debaters- both from yu- got to deal with the extremely interesting question of whether an 'intersexual' baby - born as a guy/girl - should have a sex change operation as a baby or an adult when they can pick their own identity. there were some extremely technical details in the proposal that left half the room snickering most of the time. even i, in all my state of nerves, was pretty amused - and it was interesting to watch two people who actually were pretty good compete. it's like having two editorials in the paper talk back to each other. i wanted a danish.
and the bus ride back was another moment of fun. by then it was dark, and everyone seemed to be asleep, except for the girl from my english class, and the person i had grown awkward with. they spent the whole time talking. i spent the whole time looking out the window and thinking: this is how it is now, this is how it's going to be, and there's nothing really bad about it at all; it's just different. i have other friends, and this is just one of them. and that's how it is. that's how it is.
but for all that, i was bummed when i got back to yu. it's just not as easy to get over things as logically it ought to be.
but the obstacles of the night are pretty much over. my friend the radio-show cohost comes out and solemnly informs me that we have missed all the good movies, so we will be stuck watching the zorro movie. why? because he likes z's. thus ensues a lengthy debate about the woeful state of hollywood and a trip to baskin robbins where he narrowly remembers he is still fleishig. the end result is that our confused meandering minds land us in the middle of 'chicken little', drinking coconut-decaf-iced-coffee and some kind of strawberry slushy. aside from the parts lifted directly from war of the worlds (oh, space aliens coming and invading from the sky while the townspeople run in terror), it is not that bad either. not bad at all.
there is one scene where chicken little's friend tells him that he just needs to talk to his dad, say what he has to say, and achieve 'closure.' the radio co-host arches his eyebrows at me several times, and when that has no effect, clears his throat loudly a few times. but he is not a reliable judge of character. he ignores the entire plot of the movie in favor of relishing obscure animated details that nobody but an animation-major would notice.
but it's fun. the co-host is easy-going and frankly a relief to deal with. we talk a little bit about his girlfriend coming up for shwarma next week. we talk a little bit about nothing at all. we talk a little bit about my unjustified blahness and a lot about the last round of the debate. we do not talk about midterms or my archeology final. we try to crack into my voicemail and are utterly defeated.
after he goes back to yu, i get a phone call from the infamous jeremy gaison's guitar player, who still insists on calling me carol. he is attempting to hook me up with a publisher and wants to meet me for coffee tomorrow night to discuss my book. i tell him i'll meet him, but after i hang up, a wistful thought floats through my mind.
if only you weren't a guy.
i got class in seven hours. and clearly i've got no idea what life's going to throw at me next, so i'll take my sleep where i can get it. goodnight.