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November 13th 2015
Published: November 14th 2015
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Friday the 13th. The world has seen a lot of death and senseless destruction today. I don't know what to say in the face of it all. But I will acknowledge that it has affected me, amid millions of other people. My spirit grieves.

My day had a significantly less amount of sadness in it. And I'm grateful for that.

I left Boomtown Hotel and Casino in Bossier City, LA, this morning around 8:45 AM. The drive to Fort Worth was pretty uneventful. It was about 3 hours, and I was surprised at the small amount of congestion on I-20, which I took basically the whole way in. It was a little annoying with the 4-laned interstate, since there was an awfully large amount of big rigs and other vehicles that felt the need to pass a slower-moving big rig. Of course, that means that I get to go at least 10 mph under the speed limit for the duration, but at least the speed limit was 75 mph for most of the way through Texas.

A trip to Texas isn't complete without a stop to Whataburger, and I stopped at the first one in the Dallas area. Check that off the list. Maybe I'll visit another one before I leave Texas. The Symposium was meant to start at noon, and I arrived at the building at 11:58. Good timing. There was a bit of confusion concerning the timing of my short story and the other sessions around it. I was the only item on the agenda for my time slot, which meant everyone could either attend it or go do something non-symposium related. They hadn't really scheduled any break time between sessions - one started as soon as another one ended, as opposed to having 5 minutes between one session and the next - and reading my story was going to be an issue if I was limited on time. We got it all sorted, and that was that. I got to meet my professor and several other students in the course that required us to propose a talk at this symposium today. We had all never met in person, since the course is totally online. They were all amiable, and of those whose presentations I saw, I was favorably disposed to them. One girl did a poster presentations, which meant that she was also the only thing going at her scheduled time slot. Two others had formal research papers to present, and another did a video comparison. Mine was a short story about Helen of Troy.

I read my story as quickly as I could, cutting out some parts to get it down to 15 minutes. While I was reading, I could hear some people react appropriately to the events in the story, so I was generally encouraged. Afterwards, several of the faculty members made a point to tell me that they enjoyed it, or that they were glad to have a different aspect to the symposium, or stuff like that. My classmates could all relate, and the professor told me that it was "brilliant" and that, with him and the fellow students in our course there, it was the "perfect audience," since I had incorporated what we had learned in the course and gave it a new life. It was a good story and a good reading, they said. I was pleased, to say the least.

I'm going to the TCU football game tomorrow, since students get in free with a student ID. I found out that it's meant to be a "white out," and since I had only packed a purple hoodie to wear, I was going to need to visit the bookstore to make sure I didn't show up in the wrong outfit. Luckily, they had all sweatshirts on sale, so I found a reasonably-priced white hoodie for the game. I imagine I'll get ketchup on it or something tomorrow and never be able to wear it again, but whatever. Two fun stories at the campus bookstore. Both involve my outfit: I was wearing a red and black bowtie, my UGA black fleece jacket, and a white UGA visor. So, I'm conspicuous because it's not TCU and it's also not purple, and people around here wear purple on Fridays. Everyone does. So, the clerk made the comment that "I looked like I didn't belong here," to which I responded that I was actually in the right place to rectify that situation. She agreed, and after I had selected my hoodie and a couple of other swag items, she asked if I had found everything I needed. I showed her that I had, and she approved. She said they also had purple bow ties if I wanted to pay $45, which I politely declined. Then she revealed she was a Florida fan, and my face probably showed the disgust I felt. That's why she had taken an interest when I walked in, and as I went to pay at the register, after I turned my back to her, she informed me that she was doing the gator chomp; I didn't even bother to turn around as I waved good-bye. My 2nd bookstore story is that a lady saw me and then came back to me and asked if she could take my picture since I was wearing UGA apparel. I said sure, but she felt she needed to justify that her niece wants to go to UGA but the rest of the family wants her at TCU, so she thought it would be highly appropos to show her this strange coincidence. She also insisted on showing me that she was sending it to some particular relative and wasn't just being creepy, but I assured her that I was okay with it. I'm used to the paparazzi.

Lastly, I'm staying the night at Jonathan and Stacey's house here if Fort Worth. Jonathan (or Jono, as I knew him back in the day) and I were college roommates for my final semester of undergrad at Mercer. Stacey and I were in Bear Hands, the sign language team, for several years together there, too. I had stayed with them here on my last visit to TCU in July, and they invited me back to their place if I ever came to visit again. So, here I am. They've had an addition to the family since my last time here - Amelia! But I only got to spend about 2 hours with Stacey and Amelia before they had to go to a friend's house. Jonathan and little Eli got home not long before they left, and we decided to stay in. We ordered Papa Johns, had some wine (ha!) and played Skittles. I had never played, and at first I thought it was a joke. It involved a board with several "rooms" in it, a couple of tops, and some bowling pin-like things that you set up in the different rooms on various spaces and try to knock them down with the tops. Sounds complicated, but it's really easy to figure out. To master, however, probably requires decades of practice and quite a bit of luck. I'll be glad to play it again next time I'm here. We ended the night with Mad Max: Fury Road, which I had already seen but had wanted to see again. It was even better the 2nd time around.

I've got a tailgate early tomorrow, and the game starts at 11 AM local time, so hooray! My first TCU home game. Should be fun.

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