Thursday, 10 April 2008

A Mood Swing in Three Acts

As everyone may recall, I've got a nasty habit of romanticizing trips to the US where I get to steal moments with my favorite people. My red-eye back to the UK yesterday was no exception, and I left all grumpy because I felt like my life was somehow happening in my absence, and that I was missing it by being abroad. (I'm starting to think that this is precisely because I jet out of the UK as soon as every term ends, and that I'm not giving it a chance to feel like home in any meaningful way, but I'm trying to decide whether I buy this theory and the jury's still out on that.) Anyway, I think it's particularly acute because I'm teaching in Oxford in June and July, then doing fieldwork in the Philippines in August and September, and it turns out that multi-city flights from London to Manila to Fargo, Wichita, Boston, or New York and back to London again are all about as expensive as you might expect. (To give you a rough idea, the tickets cost about what I'm worth, except tripled.) And my parents are thinking about spending this Christmas in the UK, which puts my return tentatively at the end of 2009. (I'll definitely fly back before then, but when you're in a bad mood, this sort of runs away from you.)

Anyway, I was shuffling off to buy coat hangers after my much-deserved nap this afternoon and thinking about becoming a part-time flight attendant for the free miles, and all of a sudden, I saw a friend of mine up ahead who pointed and beelined for me. He was the first person I'd seen since I got back. And we didn't stop and talk because he was on the phone, but we did a quick man-hug on Folly Bridge and I realized that my mood was markedly better after that. So I not only bought coat hangers, but also picked up a guide to the Philippines, because I was no longer too fragile to do that.

On my way back from Borders, I swung into the kitchen to microwave a plate of chicken and rice for dinner (because buying groceries for two days is a delicate art, and my usual MO of stir-frying vegetables in bulk doesn't make a whole lot of sense under those circumstances), and stumbled across a bunch of my friends making what appeared to be a pan of fishes, with heads, scales, and all. I caught up with everyone as my box of Sainsbury's rice bucked and exploded in the microwave, then went back to my room and got cracking on this review that I'm supposed to send out before I meet up with Emma. And I felt better yet.

And then, just as I was thinking of popping into bed, I heard pounding footsteps in the hallway and Erika burst into the room, and then my mood improved about tenfold. My end of the conversation wasn't really linear - James Joyce, whether it's irreparably neocolonialist to do poverty research in Southeast Asia, love, etc. - but that's exactly what I needed. (We still need to talk about my trip to Israel and the West Bank, but we decided that it's usually best to tackle things like sex, drugs, and rock and roll immediately and then get to war and peace at a later date.) And by the time I was showing off my turquoise tiger-striped top and making a cup of coffee as a nightcap, I was in a great mood.

The moral of the story is that I think I might be hormonally imbalanced.

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