Conversation of a late night:

- Mugggg. I'm hugging a porcupine. And so are you.
-.... That makes no sense. What porcupine?
- The one with sharp feathers.
-.... Are you okay?
- I'm sorry. We should never have hugged that porcupine.
- (logged off)

Out of sinister curiosity, I googled "hug a porcupine", and damn me, it was the name of a book by psychologist John Lund "How to hug a porcupine: Dealing with Toxic and Difficult to Love Personalities." The world is bleeding expressions, seriously.

As I scrambled up the stair home tonight, I saw a snail in the middle of a step. Naked without its shell, the thing looked raw and fleshy, a little disgusting in fact. I poked at it with a leaf, and it startled, quickly withdrew its squishy antennas and rolled up into a ball. A second later, it ventured the antennas out, turned them 180 degrees and I could see, from the very end of the flesh, two tiny black dots peering at me. We looked at each other for a good thirty seconds, I was admiring the vague brown veins under its porcelain skin, and who knows what it found interesting on my humanly face. With the best intention of saving it from careless footsteps, I gently cuddled it up onto the leaf and brought it down to the last step - where, I thought, it might find food easier. But what the hell do snails eat anyway? I thought hard, but had no idea. Meanwhile, the snail angrily rolled down the leaf and mightily stretched its bodice upward. Such great effort. I could see every muscle tensing up and relaxing, rolling flesh and veins, leaving behind a trace of sticky saliva.

My brain slowed down to catch up with its slowness. Then I remembered the porcupine and every neuron dashed again.
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Winding Road, MoMa

Friday night movie and an abrupt goodbye. The men then headed out to a bar. Apparently, according to them, I'm "always invited" even if they don't articulate it, only because "you bring all the girls." I was a little sad. Half of the time I feel like I'm one of the guys, half of the time I'm bothered that I'm not "really a girl" in their eyes and they won't put me on their list. It's a lose-lose situation. But it's a conscious choice: I cannot be their definition of a "normal, f-able girl", whatever be the benefits.

Mug insisted to me, to men there're only 2 kinds of girls: f-able and un-f-able. So I was written off in the un-f-able list, thanks to "We need someone to listen to our most glorious victory and our most miserable outcast!" - they scratched their heads apologetically.

Saturday, I joined the Oliver Wyman group in a firm-wide volunteer day, spending 5 hours painting murals for an elementary school in Brooklyn. The mural depicted the cover of a picture book: three black kids with happy face are jumping up and down, showered in stars, while random frogs are spurring everywhere above their head. The frogs all wear elaborated shoes, the shoelaces of which took us hours to shade. I had a blast mixing paint and making up random story lines on why the frogs all have such colorful shoes. I think they're all great princes turned into frogs awaiting the kiss of true love. That's why the world is left with men who define girls in2 categories, f or un-f-able.

And that's when, as if struck by a lightning, I discovered that I'm still a lost teenager at heart.

Saturday night, Yuko took me to Moonfield, a newly open fancy hotel in midtown where she had gift certificates for the most delicious Violet Blueberry Martinis. Tipsy and laughing after two drinks, we made a list of all the things we must do before leaving New York. Yuko and Trang's list of Becoming Good Women. I suddenly felt so young and full of the American dream, as if six years hadn't flown by and I hadn't been wearing an inside-out shirt in a world of outside-in garments.

So we bottom-uped our pretty martini glasses and stumbled down 5th Ave in our high-heeled boots, just in time for a call from Brendan and Yi to meet up for dinner. They were stunned that we already got the Asian glow at 8pm on a Sat night, and we laughed brightly at their usual co-worker-ship humor. They however caught up to us fast at an underground cozy sake bar in East Village, where the sake are named after - most likely - your desired opposite sex: Rich and Smooth, Round and Well-defined, Strong and Unforgettable. Here Yi found his favorite and started to look dreamy after the 5th bottle; Brendan too hit it hard with a shot of Tequila. Yuko, the legendary drinker, of course beat both men; and I stick with my beloved plum wine, just how I like it: Tender and Sweet.

Tipsy enough to tred dangerous water, we decided to play Truth and Dare. The long-haired Japanese waiter broke into a laugh when, losing a dare, I smiled bright at him and complimented on his cuteness. But the damage is nothing compared to Truth. Too much information disclosed. Co-worker-ship is finally broken into a more nuance territory: friends with embarrassing secrets.

After the sake bar, it was Yi and Brendan who stumbled as we finished off the night in a hookah bar, collapsing our lungs with breaths of sweet apple between sips of Moroccan beers and yummy bites of baklava. The lounge was magically transformed into a disco floor as Hips Don't Lie blasted the foggy air and a multi-color disco ball started spinning. Women and men hollered; I became miserably thoughtful over my kir glass, Brendan almost passed out, and Yi refused to tell us the only way that a woman can take advantage of a drunk man.

The sun had almost peaked over the horizon by the time that we, the lost teenagers of Never Neverland, drunk out of our minds and forgetful of our pains and the world's trouble, knocked our knees on the sidewalk to crawl home.

We all woke up the next morning with a huge hangover and a revised list.

Sunday, Yuko and I went to Carnegie Hall for a piano concert of Beethoven's sonatas. Sophisticated classical music did not make an impression on my mind. I miss Chopin and Rachmaninoff and the age of lost romance.

Sunday night, Mug and I went running along the Hudson to prepare for the race in Central Park. The night was beautiful: Manhattan lazily cast the lime lights on our moving shadows, the breeze whizzed through our panting breaths. Soon my knees lost feelings and my breaths got heavier; but in automatic motions we kept steady steps. I felt peaceful, blank, free of Descartes' cursed existence: the existence of thoughts.

I was so tired that I didn't feel it till much later: the slap, full in the face, burning hot.

Just a typical weekend.