Dragged myself out of the house yesterday in order to get air and sunshine and pull my head out of the "reacting to incoming stimuli" trap, step back, and make sure I was actually working on Important Things (I wasn't; now in hermit mode cranking through a prioritized list - this is my break.)

Yesterday I learned how to fix a flat. I dragged my bike the mile or so out to the shop, where a kind young man named Alex saw my curiosity about the process and dragged the stand and pump and tools out from the (employees-only) back room to the REI store floor and proceeded to explain everything to me as he went. He pointed out the two tiny, parallel rips like a snakebite in the rubber; it was a pinch flat, meaning I hit a hard enough pothole with underinflated enough tires that the rim slashed through the tube when it hit the sharp edge of the road.

Ben's apartment is a classic student/recent-grad crashspace - mismatched sofas and a single ancient coffeetable as the sole living room furnishing, with paper cups for bottlecaps nailed to the walls in order to tally beers; dinner was trays and trays of penne with spaghetti sauce (which I ate the vegetarian version of) and large containers of mixed drinks next to stacks of various sorts of alcohol (which I declined, since I'm still somewhat under the weather; I don't drink much anyway).

I'm not that great at conventional social gatherings; the conversation topics range too far and randomly, and the speakers overlap and slur and switch, too frequently for me to follow with either hearing or lipreading, and straining anxiously to understand or asking people next to me puts something of a damper on the chillaxin' mood. The point, apparently, is to hang out and not do anything particularly focused or coherent... there's not enough of a thread for me to throw my limited-input-compensation skills at understanding. So I talk with the person next to me if they're so inclined, or read quietly, or something. (I got through about half of Stranger in a Strange Land last night this way.) I wonder if I'll ever actually feel normal in those kinds of situations - though I guess this is already normal to me (and also the reason why I don't "hang out" in person all that much, without some sort of activity focus, or a specific few people to talk with).

Arathi and Mark made saag paneer just as Matt and I returned to pika. It was delicious.

Living with Matt is great - we're both chill roommates, sprawling across our narrow space as comfortably as we can. A mattress on the floor (his) above a futon mattress (mine) on a loft that's supported by steel cables wrapped in duct tape and bolted into the ceiling; a wooden ladder to the loft that clacks loudly against a bookshelf every time I climb it (the dimensions of the bookshelf, ladder, loft, and mattress are almost, but not-quite, compatible; we've chosen to ignore that for the summer), computer screens stacked on UPS boxes and textbooks, shoes and backpacks slung in corners, a wheat cereal box shimming the music stand behind my keyboard, the stand of which is also serving as a coat hanger.

And every time I step into somebody's house or a hotel room and find matching sheets or a shower knob that doesn't rattle and has readable labels saying which side is hot and which side cold, or a wall that's consciously been decorated rather than used as a slapping place for post-its and a hodgepodge of interesting papers, I'm amazed. Furniture that isn't scratched and doesn't lean; doors that close tightly and hang straight, curtains made from something other than a thick wad of cloth nailed to the top of the window. I love the personality, the paint splotches, the oddly-angled pipes. It isn't consciously designed, but it's got a rumpled aesthetic that fits and feels familiar and good.

Ahh. Running off my brain for no apparent reason is like the mental equivalent of a random run, which I sometimes do when I get too pent-up physically to sit still any longer. Incoherence, go! And now... back to work.