Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ode to a Laundromat

My UN office computer (that first saw the light roughly about the same time as my little sister was born... she's now 23) and I have developed a special relationship. It will take about five minutes to start up (which by today's standards is an eternity), I will politely sort out papers and place my lip balm and my cell phone (put on silent) on the desk in the meantime.

It will do as told (albeit somewhat reluctantly) the first half of the day. It's not the fastest collection of ones and zeros in town, but I can handle it.

In the afternoon it will grow slower and slower, and I will grow more and more impatient and open more and more browser windows so that I can have several things going at the same time so that it feels as if I'm filling the seconds of idle waiting with something productive. But of course this just makes it go slower and slower until it reaches a point where it just collapses in a fit of senility and forgets what it's doing at either one of the windows.

I start sighing.

But all of this, really, is okay. You must be patient with friends, and I am a patient person. (No witty remarks, thank you very much).

But when it starts telling me what to do. That's when I have to put my foot down.

"Sorry, you do not have permission to press this key" my butt.

In any event, this trip is a never ending string of first times. I just came back from my first time ever at an actual coin operated laundromat. It's about half a block down on my avenue, and nobody in there seems to speak English, and since I seem to have the kind of look that blends in no matter where I find myself (I haven't found myself in Sub-Saharan Africa or the Far East yet), the nice lady who works there tried to explain things in Spanish to me.

I improvised.

And now my little room smells of fresh laundry. O, how thy sweetly scented breath lingers on my garments, and thy warm murmuring sounds still ring in my ears. O, Laundromat, may thy existence be long and fluff-free.

I also had my nails done properly (not amateur style like the last time) after work last week. Manicure and pedicure. Done by a Chinese lady. That was also a first. But I messed up my toe nails the first thing I did, and managed to chip off a piece of the white on my French manicured left ring finger when I was making salata arabeya (super delicious cucumber, tomato and mint leave salad). But still.

And I had pancakes with maple syrup (actually containing a certain percentage of real maple syrup) at a diner out in Montauk on Saturday morning. That was probably a first and a last. American pancakes ain't my style.

And it wasn't really a first, because I vaguely remember having pancakes on a diner on a roadtrip from Seattle to San Diego when I was little. But that wasn't in Montauk.

And to complete my list of first time experiences for this time, I got my first real assignment at the UN yesterday. I've had plenty of semi-real assignments that have had one thing in common: they've all been more time consuming than they have required brain power. But yesterday I got an assignment that had a 24 hour deadline and involved actual analytical skills on my part.

My brain leaped with excitement.

It's still having to do with counter-terrorism, much in line with the work I've been doing for the past three weeks. But unfortunately, I can't tell you much more than that. I'm bound by a signed contract not to disclose any information pertaining to the meetings, documents or work I come across during my internship to third parties. Unless this material has been published already, of course. But my work is top secret, hot off the presses, high priority stuff, so... I'm sorry.


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