Kissed, Mass Oh



There are boxes and crates piled haphardly around the room, covered in a thick layer of dust. Some of boxes are open, their contents scattered: old clothes that were never actually in style, household items, stacks of laser-printed papers, old notebooks, obsolete computer equipment, knick-knacks, books, and a few unidentifiable mystery items. The windows offer a glimpse of weak sunlight filtered through a coat of grime. The entire building has a general air of neglect and abandonment.

We hear the creak and squeal of a metal industrial door that barely remembers oil. A shaft of bright sun pierces the semi-gloom, widening as the door gradually shudders and jerks open.

PLIN steps tentatively into the room, wiping her grubby hands on her trouser jeans with a grimace of distaste.

(peering about)
Wow. I haven't been in here for a while, huh? What a mess.

A puff of dust kicks up from the floor at every step, the motes dancing in the sunlight. She wanders over to a particularly large, closed crate and draws her finger along the top. She makes a face at the dirt she finds, and makes a half-hearted effort to brush away the dust. Then she gingerly hoists herself up into a seated position, legs dangling.

It's not that I haven't had anything to say, you know. A lot has been going on around here. I mean, there's school, and... (long pause). Okay, well, there's been a lot of school. But "school" is more than just classes. Actually, I finished my coursework last spring, and also took my comps. (She shudders at the recollection.) Believe me, that is not something I ever want to do again. Still, I survived.

She pauses to stare into space for a moment, swinging her legs just enough for the heels of her red Fluevogs to tap out a rhythm against the wood of the crate.

Oh! And I've been to some conferences. Let's see, since the last time I wrote (she looks back over her shoulder, and gives a little shrug of embarrassment before facing forward again) I've been to conferences in New Mexico, San Antonio, San Francisco, and D.C. Boy, could I tell you some stories about those! Except, well, some of them might get me into trouble. It's not like back in the old days, when I never used to worry about what I wrote, because who could possibly care? (speaking quickly) Not that I'm saying anyone cares now, of course, because why would they? Especially when I haven't written anything in so long. I just mean that if I told certain stories then maybe I could be identified if they turned up on a search by someone who was looking for, uh...

She turns pink as she realizes she's babbling, and takes a deep calming breath to steady herself.

Anyway. I just mean, I have to be a little more careful now that I'm trying to have a "career" (finger quotes) of sorts. Even though I'm using a pseudonym these days, it's not as though I'm all that difficult to identify or track down. Luckily, I'm not stalker bait, but who knows what my future colleagues might get up to?But maybe I could tell a couple of things.

She thinks for a moment, then shakes her head in evident amusement.

Seriously, I seem to have the strangest experiences at conferences. Like there was the one where everyone sat in a circle and passed around a "story stone." The person holding the story stone would share something about why they were at this conference. Except, yikes, it all turned very personal. I mean, stories of childhood abuse, alcoholism, you name it. As the stone went around the room, I got more and more freaked out. Wait, what? (She cocks her head as though listening.) Oh. Heh. Um. Me? (blushes) I somehow found myself explaining how I moved to the US from Italy because of Buffy. I mean, gross oversimplification there, of course, but. (clears throat) Anyway. Then there was the time at another conference when I was walking down the street talking to a professor--not one of mine, thankfully--when he suddenly whips out his cell phone and starts showing me naked pictures of his ex-boyfriend. That was a little awkward. I mean, the ex was certainly nice to look at and stuff. I just... what? (She is obviously listening again, then makes a face.) Ha ha. Very funny. No, it wasn't awkward just because it's been a long time since I've seen anyone naked. Sheesh. Personal, much?

Tired of sitting, she jumps down from the crate and starts walking around the room, occasionally pausing to peer into an open box and poke at its contents. She keeps talking throughout this cursory inspection.

Anyway, I have plenty more where those came from, but most are best told in person. And not all of my stories come from conferences, I'll have you know. Which is a good thing, since the plan is for me to come back here every day for the next month: it's nice to have a few stories saved up, and talking about conferences all the time might get dull. Why do I think I can do this when I'm so out of practice, and even when I was in practice I never managed to finish? Well, good question; the answer is probably that I'm a bit of a masochist. I am a grad student, after all, right? Sure, I'm super-busy with my dissertation, but I'm hoping I can at least take a little while out of each day to come here and write a little something that doesn't involve Bourdieu or Beck or tearing my hair out over Pajek. Crap, I'm doing it again, aren't I? Sorry. I promise not to bore you with "Tales from a Dissertating Life," except the kind that don't have to do with the actual substance of what I'm working on. Because seriously, while I love my topic and I hope my committee does, too, I wouldn't inflict it on any poor unsuspecting other folk. Even suspecting other folk, and if you know any doctoral students, you know you should always be suspecting. You never know when they're going to make a theory "joke" or start talking about assistantships or job talks or some other weird, arcane academic nonsense. (She looks up suddenly.) Wait, it's not just me who does that, right?

By now PLIN has reached the back of the room. She starts to lean against the wall, then remembers at the last instant where she is, and why that's not a good idea. She settles for adopting a casual standing pose, one hand lightly resting on a shelf.

So yeah. More to come over the next few weeks. And don't worry: I'm not going to keep trying to do this in script form. Way too much work, and I obviously don't know what the hell I'm doing. (She straightens, then notices that her hand is filthy. She wrinkles her nose.) However, tomorrow I'm definitely bringing a vacuum cleaner. And some sponges. This place is gross.