morning

The sky is dark and the digital clock in Harvard Square tells me there’s still a quarter to go until six. The roads are empty and a few people, those last, barely, and first awake walk down the sidewalk. Pairs huddle together. Two older women hold hands.

My long underwear scratches my legs for the first time since winter gave way to spring in April. The first cold morning has settled on Camberville, bringing with it frost clinging to fallen leaves and clear sunrises.

katsura

“When I was biking down, I went past the katsura and was like ‘yeah, fall’s coming.'”

“They’re changing color?”

“No, they smells like fall.”

Katsura tees smell like fall, a dark smell of honey, cinnamon, and dust. As their leaves prepare to die, they produce an excess of maltose in one last push. It catches on the air and carries down wind, following me down the path.

cheat

It’s 12:30am.

“You fucked my cousin, you bitch. You fucked my cousin. I’m going to fuck you in the ass because you fucked my cousin, you bitch.”

Twenty, thirty feet above them, I’m awake.

She says something, I can’t hear her.

“The wedding’s off because you fucked my cousin. I am going to call my mom. I’m going to call your mom. I’m going to call anyone who will listen and tell them the wedding’s off because you fucked my cousin.”

She says something again. I still can’t hear her, but I hear a whimper.

I find my phone and dial 911. I don’t hit send. I don’t know what I’m waiting for. Maybe he’ll calm down. Maybe she’ll leave. Maybe they’ll both go away. Maybe too much time has passed and if I call the cops, they’ll show up too late. Maybe I’m waiting just a few more seconds to make sure I need to call 911 before I do so.

I’m waiting to see if he hits her.

Visionary Week Two: Give In

A few days in, I am going crazy again. Taking the T makes me feel listless all day. I wake up early, run every morning. I struggle to stay awake and wear sunglasses. I take breaks every five to ten minutes, closing my eyes as the world spins and blurrs in and out and the headaches make me want to cry–not from pain, but over how helpless I feel.

My boss and I sit down and we work out a schedule where I am only in the office for part of the day. I’ll go home, and then work more after taking a nap.

At work. I align things on my desk, so I can practice looking at them. They’re positioned so that if I focus with my right eye, things look one way, the object in the front covers the objects and lines behind it in a way different than when i focus with my left eye. I try to get the objects to align in neither way, to find the space in between.

Edges are blurry. NN tells me that babies have trouble identifying edges when they’re learning to see. This is a good sign, she says.

I didn’t want to have to need more dispensations for work. When I leave the office, with everyone else hunched over their desks, I feel like I am cheating. I am doing something I am not supposed to be. I sneak out. I don’t say goodbye or even acknowledge that I am leaving.

When I get home, I take a nap and then pace around the house like a ghost. I work in the stretches I can focus for. I pace. After it’s dark, I go running. It’s the thing I have. It’s the thing I can do. Every day I wait until the end of it, finding comfort in the knowledge that I’ll be able to close my eyes and sleep.

mathematics

There’s a This American Life has an episode, for Valentine’s Day, that opens with a Harvard educated physicist relaying a story about doing the math to figure out his dating pool in Boston.

So you start with 600,000. Which sounds great, except that half of them are guys, right? And I’m only interested in girls.

He’s wrong.

So, let’s be honest, a Harvard physics student or post-doc is probably not going to date someone who lives in Boston (population 645,000). He’s more likely to date someone in Camberville (pop. 105,000 and 75,000, respectively). He might go to Medford (pop. 56,000), where Tufts calls home. Arlington (pop. 42,800) is also a possibility (in as much, maybe less, than I would say Boston is), but I add it for the sake of being thorough.

Now, let’s talk about his claim that half of his 600k people are women. He’s wrong.

M.’s Table of Wikipedia Data

City Total Population Men (per 100 women)*
Arlington 42,800 83.9
Boston 645,000 89.9
Cambridge 105,000 94.7
Medford 56,000 85.2
Somerville 75,700 93

*among people over the age of 18.

This general statistic (more women than men in the Boston area), has come up recently in conversation. Someone’s girlfriend moved to Boston. They broke up. “At least the dating scene here has to be better for her than [the Midwest].” Someone else considered that the last three men they had sex with were all from outside the area.

Because I like pushing numbers, let’s see some more. I’ve rounded to the nearest integer because you can’t date .428ths of a person.

M.’s Estimates on Number of Vaguely Age Appropriate Dating Pool For A Random Adult Assuming No One Is Married, They Do Not Mind May-December Relationships or Heterosexual Relationships

City Total population % Over 18 # of Men # of Women
Arlington 42,800 35.6 6,951 8,285
Boston 645,000 47.5 145,040 161,335
Cambridge 105,000 59.8 30,540 32,250
Medford 56,000 42.6 10,974 12,881
Somerville 75,700 58.5 21,339 22,945
Totals 924,500 N/A 214,844 237,696

Conclusions

Reviewing assumptions:

  • Everyone wants to partner monogamously
  • Everyone is into heterosexual relationships
  • Adultery is not an issue
  • Anyone in the 18-44 age range is acceptable
  • People are looking to partner only within the Greater Boston Area.

Based on these assumptions, 22,852 women are unable to couple. That’s approximately the population of Lincolnia, Virginia.

Exempt Parties

This doesn’t take into account things like married couples In Somerville, 32.3% of the 31,555 households (10,192) were married couples. This is where things are going to get kind of weird. Most of my friends live in shared apartments. SW and LR are married, but have two (unmarried) housemates. I also don’t know how many households are over the age of 44 (or under the age of 18).

M.’s List of Households

City Total Households % Married # of Married Households
Arlington 19,007 45.1 8,572
Boston 252,699 25.5 64,438
Cambridge 44,032 28.9 12,725
Medford 22,067 45.6 10,063
Somerville 31,555 32.3 10,161

Gallup estimates that 4.4% of adults in Massachusetts are gay. This does not take into any account how many of these people are men or women. There are people who are asexual. There seems to be a decent turnover rate in the population, due to the universities and growing startup culture, though that may just be a reflection of my social circles.

Personal Conclusions

It’s no wonder my female friends keep getting together with dudes who don’t live here.

Edit: 2,2945 > 22,945. Thanks, TR.

Vistionary Week Two: Work

I return to work on a Monday. It’s been a little over a week since the surgery. The concept of work, the pervasive culture of being an employee, of defining myself by my employer, has consumed me.

When I go to parties, people ask what I do and I in turn ask what they do. It’s small talk, in a form where we hope someone will say something we can latch on to. It’s something we can be genuinely interested in–in the Camberville world where social connections are key to success or in an honest sense of curiosity. Regardless, I have bought into it and I feel bad, deeply, critically bad, for missing out on a week of work.

Missing out.

I return to the office, with eyes still marked from the red blotches of blood and painful black stitches. The sunlight is too bright, and I wear a hat pulled down low over my face. I take the T and I want to sit down, but I don’t, because it is crowded and I look healthy. To someone who doesn’t know how much the world sways and blurs when I try to look at it, I appear healthy.

Everyone greets me in the office and my discomfort is caused not just by the green florescent lights–which I never liked in the first place–but their concern. I warned them, in a short e-mail before my return, explaining that I had surgery, was fine, happy to talk about it, but I’d really like to be able to focus on getting back to work and catching up on everything I missed.

Catching up.

Work doesn’t slow down when you’re injured. Things pile up and wait for you to take them back on and over and over again in my head, over the dizziness, nausea, and headaches, I tell myself that this is what I need to do.

I sit down at my computer and power it up. The text is unreadable.