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Day 103: I'd walk to you if I had no other way.

She counts out sixty-nine cents in the backseat, before contorting her lower back to reach a semblance of reclining.

Now awake and at Starbucks, she orders her usual drink under the name "R." Today, the scruffy boy who is usually at the cash register asks, "anything else I can do for ya, Arrr?" apparently finding this abbreviation of her name funny. "That'll be three sixty-nine." She hands the girl her already-enumerated change before sitting as they prepare her drink. While she waits, she writes Laura yet another weakly veiled missive of morosity.

Next comes a call from a close friend anxious about the "collegiate verdict" fast approaching this week. "I just told myself I didn't care where I got in," she hears herself saying. She likes her voice. "But I can't brainwash myself, Ratna." "Well, yeah, maybe there's something to be said for expectation -- maybe that's enriching in itself, regardless of whether you're disappointed at the end of it." It'll be a long time before she allows herself to believe that again. Think like an optimist; act like a realist.

"I'm going to hop on the train now," is how she ends the conversation.

And what a train ride. Alack, the world's prettiest song is in one of her least favorite languages. The gentleman sitting in front of her must know the song, and has maybe even listened to it sitting next to someone about whom he cares a lot, because he turns his head not so slightly to have a better listen. French ballads transition into Spanish club music fairly smoothly today, and the thoughts evoked by the latter are somewhat embarrassing. I need to know how to speak Spanish. Not just know Spanish, but know how to speak it. She decides to write today's blog post in third person.

On her favorite street she meets a colleague: "Gee, Ratna, are you cold enough?" Freezing.

She arrives at the office in time for her laundry list of assignments. I want to be the world's personal assistant. Today promises to be the last day of the application for re-licensure that is almost finished, almost finished. If there's one thing she's learned from this job it's that sometimes to get things done, you need to just take them to the person who needs to do them. So she takes the file to the Executive Director herself.

Ms. Shore's office is breathtaking. On her second try, she finds the ED there, and presents the papers to the inspiring woman with the Ms. Deveneau-esque air.

She leaves work almost feverish and quickens her pace to reach the metro on time. Her favorite street is usually a dream, but today's arcade game of dodging homeless men pouring their life stories into the sidewalk is hardly dreamy.

And on the train: Why don't people ask me more questions? Don't they know I'll tell them anything? Well, at this point, almost anything.

Now the bus. "That's a jazzy haircut, Retna. It took me some getting used to, but that's a jazzy haircut." And a few minutes later, "Dee Dee, you look well-rested. You're probably not, but you look well-rested. And healthy."

Finally home, she prepares to teach herself to speak Spanish.


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