Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Life is beautiful

March 13 it happened, and it happened so quickly: we derived the classical trace formula. Half of the class was not even here, they had no time to blink, and it happened. The course is OVER. Trace formula is beautiful, and there is nothing more to say. Just some moping up to do. Today's sequel, "The meaning of it all: From trace formula to spectral determinant" was not half bad either, except for some wind-baggery about Gutzwiller, Zagier, etc, etc.

Outside the skies were beautiful, clear and blue. Cherry and Bradford pear trees are in glorious bloom, and the temperature is quickly dropping to below zero. I jumped on the bike and biked from Georgia Tech to the dead center of downtown. There were 5000 cars going nowhere, all roads plugged up, and there I was zooming by on the sidewalks - illegal in Georgia, but there are no pedestrians, and I live only once. I smuggled the bike into dentist's office, and submitted myself to scrutiny of a dental hygienist from Pasadena. I had recommended the dentist to Kimberly Short, and guess the name of hygienist: Kimberly Long.  Kimberly stuck my head in some contraption from Trekk, and made me bite and suck on a steel rod with lips closed while pushing the tip of the tongue against the palate and kind of standing tiptoe. In this ridiculous pose the machine whirled 360 degrees around my head, ostensibly generating a 3D Xray of my teeth. But I am sure it sucked my mind out, because I immediately became deliriously happy. The tooth that was sensitive to pressure before I got to office decided not to be sensitive to anything, so I left the office (with the bike, 5 floors above Peachtree) undrilled and irrationally content.

The sun is setting, the temperature is quickly dropping, and from overpass to Freedom Parkway downtown skyscrapers are silhouetted against a dramatic sky, with large dark purple cloud blotches. Bike chain locks up - I reset it and think - maybe I should get a new bike...

I decide to explore Highland south of Ponce de Leon, and discover a bike store that I did not know existed. It's a small store, and there is a single young man standing in it. There I things in life I find irresistible: dancer's body, a woman with a voice and acoustic guitar, an intelligent, serious 12-year old, a man or woman alone in his/her bike shop. The young man's name is Seth, and he is a dropout. Why go to school when you can build your own frames?

He takes the bike, disassembles it: the chain is stretched, the bracket is loose and it misses the bolt, the right brake cable is locked up, I must get the only backlight he sells (40 bucks for a blinding red rechargeable only via USB cable), and then reassembles it again, pumps the tires to 90 psi ("You have to pump up your tires every two days"), while his Asian-American girlfriend floats in, the bicycle beautiful and with bamboo fenders, then a tall young man who sets to lovingly dusting a dirt roadbike by the light of his smartphone, and yet another gentle young Asian-American man whose business has been taken over by Starbucks floats in - it's a bike store where you hang out in the evenings. I get on the bike, and its 20 years younger - the gears just purr between my legs. I stop the next door: Sweet Auburn Barbecue. Waitress Katherine is Asian-American. The owners are not southern rednecks - they are Hmong? Malaysians? Filipinos? It's getting impossible to guess. The stone is off my chest and I do something I've been unable to do in months. I open the postdoc application folders I've been carrying with me everywhere. What an idiot I've been - I have to call C├ędric, make him an offer. Now.

It's night, the temperature has dropped bellow freezing, I'm freezing and I'm biking home, idiotically happy.