Saturday, April 22, 2006

Avoiding the party

Here I sit in the computer room of a friend's*, with The Painter next to me, watching Monsters, Inc. on another computer. It's a housewarming party. And I have nothing to say to anyone. It's sad that I have so much trouble being happy for anyone these days. I'm constantly comparing their circumstances to my own, and feeling the worse for it.

Mutual friends or relatives ask me, "so, what are you up to these days." It's embarassing. What do I say? I tell them the truth, then slink away as quickly as I can.

Well, that's about all for now.

* This is one of those times that I really wish to coin a word. I've lamented this absence for years. What do you call a couple, who both happen to be friends. "A couple friends" doesn't work, since it doesn't connote their relationship to each other, simply that they are both friends of mine. "A couple who happen to be friends of mine" is exceedingly awkward. So, what do you say? "This couplefriend of mine" Yech!


Prof. Me said...

No, no, no. You cannot do this to yourself. You have PLENTY to talk about, friend -- plenty. For example:

"Hey! Nice house! We just sold our place the other day, and boy it feels good. Tell me a bit about buying this one and what you're going to do with it..."

"Well, I've been busy with my research while I wait for an academic post to open up. Just got news that one of my articles will be published..."

"We just returned from Boston and it was a lovely trip. The wife and I even had a chance for a date..."

"Yes, the boys certainly are growing up fast; what are your kids interested in these days?"

You cannot base your happiness solely on whether or not you have a job in academia. Yes, it's important, and yes, you'll have it one day. But please, please don't forget to be grateful for all of the wonderful things that are happening for you and your family NOW.

You have nothing -- NOTHING -- to be "embarrassed" about, my friend. Deep down, you know that.

ArticulateDad said...

Duly chastened. Sometimes we all need a little slap in the face, eh? I just haven't mastered the art of talking about my research to non-academics, without feeling like some kind of snob. So, I wind up trying to blend in at parties, and that just isn't me.

As Dryden recently put it: I've never known a person who was enormously well-educated not to be constantly apologizing for this fact in conversation. After I wrote this post, I did find occasion to talk a bit about my research. But I was embarassed by hearing "wow, that sounds interesting." I guess it beats overhearing a whispered, "wow what a deadbeat!"

We had a nice visit to Pasadena though. Spent the night in a hotel near their house. A nice visit to the Kidspace Children's Museum, and great dim sum in LA's Chinatown.

It was a nice house. They are a sweet couple. And, deep down, I'm really happy for them. You know, my life ain't too bad, either, except for the occasional bout of infantile jealousy.