We went househunting on Sunday, a spur-of-the-moment thing after going to the Cracker Barrel for brunch. I'd never eaten at a Cracker Barrel. I remember visiting one on my way from Baltimore to Seattle in 2001, though. We got Mom some old-fashioned candy for her Christmas stocking. (I think we're finally stopping the Christmas stocking tradition this year. Mom and Dad are trying--Mom sort of half-heartedly--to move towards a "Each person give only one present to each other person" model of gift giving. This throws me into a bit of a conundrum with Dad's present, but we'll see how it goes.) It was a good time. Househunting was fun, too; we went to a couple of open houses and saw some truly dreadful wallpaper and collected a lot of fliers. One, for a perfectly innocuous (if unappealing) house in a back street, had the realtor's name and picture on the bottom. Ravi Ramachandran, let's say, though that wasn't his name. It was Indian, and the picture was of an Indian man wearing a turban. "Ravi Ramachandran," Eric said, pronouncing it in mocking fake-Indian accents, and complained about the layout of the flier. "He probably hardly speaks English."
Edith said, "He'd have to, to get his realtor's license," and I said, looking at him like he was crazy, "Why, because he has a foreign name?" so he subsided. Later he did the name-accent thing again and I took the paper away from him and said, "I can't buy the house if you're going to make fun of the realtor all the time." Probably at this point he remembered that my mother has a foreign name and he's going to be dependent on her hospitality for a week during the holidays. (I talked to her on Friday and she got an A- on her latest ESL test, even though she got into the class late and is struggling with all the grammar rules. I think that's fantastic.) Or maybe he just likes speaking with an Indian accent and I'm overly sensitive.
When we got home we saw the neighbors just coming out to look at their van, which had had its rear window broken with a rock. The neighbors are Russian, I think--no certainty there because the only way to tell was the mother's accent and I'm bad at placing accents. We walked over and commiserated and recommended they call the police, and on the way inside Eric said, "I'm just hoping it wasn't race-related." I looked at him like he was crazy. His mother said later that she was sure it was. I guess I'm the crazy one, because I just don't think of these things.
I like my kind of crazy, but it does seem to get me in trouble, or at least in the minority. Like another thing that came up on Sunday, which is my tendency not to be effusive about things. I think I discussed this about last year's Cedar Point trip. (Cedar Point was a lot of fun, but I should remember to pack some fruit to eat next year. We decided to get breakfast on the way and then didn't stop until the fast food places had stopped serving breakfast, so my total consumption for Saturday was: 1 veggie burger, 1 medium fry, 1 dish nachos, a few other fries, about 20 oz. soda, and 2.5 oz. Dippin' Dots. Dippin' Dots are tasty, but I don't think the novelty was worth the cost, especially since all the little dots froze on my tongue and burned it.) I thought about it on the way home. The reason people thought I wouldn't do well as a grad student, and the reason people don't like me here, is that I don't show enthusiasm over things. I don't get gushy and chipper and smile and talk all the time. I don't do it because it's not my nature; I'm not comfortable with it and I'd be acting a part if I started. That's why I'm leaving my job. It's not that I can't do the work; it's that I can't be what they want me to be.
But I decided, also on the way home, that I don't believe I'm a failure because of what I am. I just need to find jobs and people who want me the way I am, who think I can do good work even if I don't grin at their every little joke, don't say, "Sounds great!" when told to do something tiresome and pointless, don't laugh when they belittle other people in front of me. Admittedly I suspect this means finding a job where I'm mostly alone, but at least I'm doing okay on finding the people.