I should probably be doing work. Well, maybe not. It's the day after Thanksgiving, and I'm sitting in Corner Bakery across the table from Sebastian with a caramel latte (my delicious "free internet tax") beside me and my R code is off on a data run, and isn't that close enough to compiling for me to take a break and take a breath and write?

I need to write. I need to write, I need to write. Thoughts tumble out in an unordered stream without them; writing makes the chaos of my life into a linear narrative that I can understand and tell. I'll start by describing what I see around me, because I don't know what else to do.

You know about my running code -- the backstory to that is a frustrating struggle with unspecified expectations for statistics class, but it's a healing wound now with hard lessons learned; not a story that's over, but a story I've figured out how to learn from; the code is basically written, the code will run, I'll analyze the data, graph it, write it up. I have other work that I should do, want to do -- right after this I'll sit down and write the company that made my hearing aids (Phonak) to set up an interview for my final Hearing Aids project, and go through the remaining deliverables for that class for this semester; I know I want to go over the past exam, I know I want to write notes for the next one. I know I have a data analysis project and a reflection left for Design class, a paper to prep for publication for the "how to be a professor" class I'm calling "Meta," I know all these things, I can do them. (It would help if the internet in my parents' house didn't block useful sites and ports. That's why Sebastian and I are in Corner Bakery tonight.)

But work is a slice of my life, not the whole, and I'm learning not to think about it all the time, so that's all I'll write about it for now.

The guy across the table from me -- there's a lot of stories from the past few days about things around, about, and between us, but those stories get to go untold for now. But I will say that I am thankful for him in more ways than I can ever say; any eloquence I have fails me whenever I try to write about Sebastian. Or draw, or play music, or... anything. I think the best way to thank people who've touched your entire life is to live that life of yours as well as you can live it, and that's what I'm trying to do.

An orange/green/red scarf, rumpled knit fall colors, is peeking out of my backpack on the table to my right. That's from a shopping run with Lee. One of the assignments from my women's circle (one of the best things I've done for myself all year) is to do something to step outside our comfort zone -- and so I'm trying to step as deep as I can into a realm I've always shunned: physical appearance.

It starts with clothes, or has so far. I've asked friends to take me shopping for things that are (1) cheap -- so thrift stores are the order of the day -- and (2) Future Dr. Mel-like -- that is, nicer than my comfort zone of jeans and t-shirts, something more befitting a (future) young faculty member than an undergrad. I still look like an undergrad with my sneakers and my ratty jackets and my college sweater and my mop of unkempt short hair and a big brown Jansport backpack crammed with looseleaf papers. Hence the scarf, about $1 at Goodwill -- and the striped and collared shirt I'm wearing right now over brown slacks I already have -- and I look... good. Surprisingly good. And feel surprisingly comfortable. And this adventure will continue. The goal is to get 5 complete, coordinated outfits -- one per day for the first week of the spring semester.

The next part will come before winter break: I'm going to the hair salon. And not the cheapest possible option for a "make it short" job, as I've always done in the past every few months when my hair flies into my eyes. I'm going to (voluntarily) get a real hairstyle -- I don't even know what that means, but I'll get one. It might involve gel and/or combing my hair in the morning and possibly using a hair dryer. But that's okay. Again, I'm committing to doing this "hair" thing for the first 5 days of spring term, and can relax after that if I want to.

And then I start getting into really weird territory (for me). Jewelry. Makeup. I've asked some friends to come with me to the mall and help me approach the makeup counter. We'll see what happens with that. I'm not committing to doing that for the first week of the spring semester -- just to going to the makeup counter once and seeing what they say and do and what it looks like; if I want to run home and scrub my face with cold cream afterwards and never return, then that's okay. But I will go once. I'll try it once.

Finally, I will figure out something with this backpack of mine -- if there's a way I can borrow a satchel or a... I don't actually know what more "professional" thing-carrying devices are, but a purse isn't going to work for me, so I'll figure something else out. Again, first week of spring semester. And that, so far, is the experiment. I associate all these things, these appearance things, with discomfort and shallowness and vanity, of eschewing functionality in favor of external prettiness that takes energy away from the internal parts that actually count -- your brain, your heart, your soul. But it doesn't have to be this way, I'm learning. Doesn't mean I'll switch, but... it does mean I'll try to consider that part of the world with less of a knee-jerk reaction than I have in the past.

Other things? Well, we're on our way back to the house to make sure dinner is okay, and will stop by to check in on my parents on the way. That's another story that will go unwritten and unsaid for the time being, but it's another part of this Thanksgiving that's been interesting, and we'll see how things turn out. My cousins will be there, and their boyfriends; my brother will be there, and perhaps later tonight we'll get cupcakes for dessert.

And that's what I have time to write right now, and that's enough. There are an infinite number of stories to tell, and we can only choose to write so many -- because we also have to choose which ones to live. And right now, I'm going to start another one by heading home.