Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

26 Aug 2002, 11:58 a.m.

I don't have to take care of the cats anymore,…

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2002 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I don't have to take care of the cats anymore, for reasons I can't disclose. Yay!

A few nights ago, I helped Shweta move some stuff in her apartment. I met other friends of hers, such as Becca and Vynce and Alyssa. Alyssa became distraught upon realizing that when her hair was up "I look like Laura Ingalls Wilder! Look at me! Laura Ingalls Wilder on a bad hair day! Or Swiss Miss! Or Princess Leia or something!"

At one point, while the males ordered pizza and talked sci-fi, the females helped Shweta in a costuming confab for a Dickens Fair. Becca, who works in theatrical costume design, could actually help with such commentary as, "Well, if you pattern your skirt like on the left but symmetrically, that's high-class Renaissance....add a bustle in the back, and you're around 1880...sure, they wouldn't have used that material, but yellow is fine...the problem is that your bodice is really a Renaissance bodice, since they wouldn't have used three-quarter sleeves..." or other such rather well-versed expertise. I, feeling (what's the feminine equivalent of "castrated"?), eventually went into the living room to hear Vynce hold forth on Stand on Zanzibar, which evidently I must read.

Zack wasn't feeling well enough to go pick up the pizza, and I had a valid driver's license, so I drove Zack's car (with a bunch of guys talking language design). I had never driven an SUV before. I felt as someone might if she gained two hundred pounds overnight -- unsure of her own size and momentum. Aside from a swerve to avoid a reckless driver, we made it home without incident and with pizza.

During the pizza-serving, I heard many questions being asked, some in response to questions, and foolishly I asked, "Are we playing Questions?" Hoo, boy. Just as you shouldn't offhandedly mention karma in a conversation with a philosophy major (as I learned freshman year), you shouldn't implicitly suggest a game of Questions around linguists. Shweta and Vynce went at it for about half an hour. It went from cute to annoying to weirdly calming. I found myself making conversation with the others, asking them questions for the sheer pleasure of getting statements back. (e.g. "You want another slice of pizza?" "Sure.") Of course, Vynce and Shweta disagreed as to whether certain sentences were questions. I thought that Vynce's sentences were a bit too formulaic, while Shweta was more creative. Example:

Vynce: [some question]
Shweta: Zack, [Vynce's question repeated]?
Zack: [answer]
Shweta: Vynce, does that answer your question?
Zack: Well played!
The game only ended when Shweta got a phone call that took a rather long time -- she had to convince someone that she, a GSI, wasn't going to strike -- during which Becca and Vynce communicated in American Sign Language, which is pretty cool.

I got home a lot later than I thought I would, but at least I got to verify that Zack isn't actually sick. I get rather maternally worried about him and other male friends of mine. Maybe I do have a uterus after all.