"How are you?" "How was your day?" "How are things going?" I wonder how many times a day we ask, and answer a version of that question. "Fine." "Okay." "Pretty good." "Alright." It's a basically meaningless, but somehow important element of the way we related to each other, whether we're best friends or strangers. We don't really think about it that much. And it's pretty much the same every day.
And then there are days like today. Freezing cold, not-supposed-to-be-like-this-in-Austin-in-February days. "How's it going?" said my colleague. And instead of automatically replying "Good, how 'bout you?", for once I gave a real answer:
"Well, I can't feel my toes, I spent the morning digging through the online archives of a Belgian journal of tropical medicine, and I got subpoenaed. But, you know, other than that, fine. What's up with you?"
He stared. I stared back.
Yeah, it's that kind of day. The Belgians have lots to say about sleeping sickness eradication and malaria prevalence rates, but not much on how many Belgian-appointed doctors worked in colonial clinics in rural Kivu circa 1935, which is all I need to know. A judge says I have to be the state's witness next week. And it's 32 degrees outside.
At least the sky is blue.