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2002-12-05 11:09 a.m.

I went out to dinner last night with Andie, Tawnya, and Bobby. We were supposed to meet in Palo Alto at 8 PM but everyone was 45 minutes late—except for Michelle, who did not show up at all.

So, I stood outside in the cold alone and waited. I tried to stay positive in spite of my disappointment—I felt a little sorry for myself. I don't feel particularly justified about it, but I feel hurt when my friends are late. I don't think that this is a terribly fair way to feel, since I am late sometimes, too, and I surely have other flaws that hurt my friends similarly if not more.

I had an idea of how to feel better: I decided that I would pretend that I came to Palo Alto to people watch, and that if my friends showed up it would just be a bonus. I love to people–watch. But, nobody walked by for me to look at.

The normally crowded downtown was strangely empty. There were none of the usual beautiful, richly–dressed people. I watch them with curiosity like a child tries to understand the very foreign workings of an ant hill or a beehive. The people in downtown Palo Alto bustle from their fancy cars to their expensive restaurants with their minds lost in thoughts of stock portfolios and new horses for their youngest daughters and whatever it is that this flavor rich thinks about. Instead, an Asian couple walked by hand–in–hand. Two college students rode by on bicycles. My Plan B was not exactly working.

One of the keys to remaining happy is to avoid strong emotions, such as disappointment, irritation, and anger. Allowing these feelings to take is often the nudge that pushes a precariously balanced moment over the edge from ok to full–fledged suck.

So, how does one push a precarious moment the other way, back towards better?

Perhaps the only way to really to control afflictive emotions is through the conscious forgiveness of others. If we stop to think about what it must be like to be that other person and how we would do the same things—if not much worse—if we were in their shoes, then we can more easily forgive them. And, when we see how we are not very different from them, it becomes clear that anger, irritation, and disappointment help nothing.

I walked across the street to the Stanford University book store—I had always wanted to go in there but never had the time. They had books, as I expected. But, they also sold medical implements there. Probably so that the medical students and local fetish crowd could probe and squeeze and hammer and measure their whatevers. I really wanted some medical tools of my own, so I could pull them out and use them on drunk people at parties, but I considered that maybe the fantasy of this was better than the reality of shelling out $40 for some metal forceps or that cool light they shine into your orifices so they can see the hamsters running around and having a party inside.

In the end, my friends showed up, and dinner was great—at least the company part of it. It was the first time I had met Bobby, and he came across quite shy, yet kind, intelligent, and witty. Seems like a good egg to me.

The food was suspect and not terribly comforting or good. I suppose that it was as good as one can expect for steam–table, buffet–style Chinese/Japanese. The quality and taste did not thwart me, though. I still ate far too much, and even after I was totally full I insisted on eating jellyfish salad.

I never miss an opportunity to eat jellyfish. It feels so naughty to eat something which seems so inedible and wrong. Jellyfish consumption carries for me the same sort of charge as eating snails, only more so. I just want to giggle like a teenage girl and then jump on top of the table and pull down my pants and, with a mouth full of jellyfish, start shouting, "HMPHFLFHHLTHTTLBLUBLLB". It is almost impossible to really shout anything clearly when your mouth is full of shredded jellyfish strips.

It got me to thinking about possible advertising slogans for jellyfish:

Jellyfish: The other clear meat.

Jellyfish: The other clear, stinging meat.

Jellyfish: The other meat that stings and paralyzes helpless, swimming children.