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This weekend marks my first round of graduate school interviews.  As excited as I am about these campus visits, I’m already exhausted by the withering pressure to socialize, mingle, and “schmooze.”  I can’t imagine how much more draining the next few are going to be.

Surprisingly, what I found most difficult weren’t the one-on-one interviews with professors, but the receptions and dinners that required a level of social interaction and networking skills that I, frankly, just plain suck at.  Perhaps it’s the introversion or the Asian upbringing that teaches you to not speak unless spoken to—maybe the two are related, I don’t know.  But too often I find myself the only person on the side, blending into the background and outshone by others more charming and adept at navigating group dynamics.

Ok, I’m not saying that I’m a complete loser.  I’ve got humor, and a pleasant smile.  And I can hold myself in a private conversation most of the time.  But throw me into a group of more than four people I’m unfamiliar with, and I’ll feel less inclined to put myself out there; my attention wanders and I let myself retreat.  I figure, I’ll let the extroverts do their jobs.  Once I get into that quiet mode, it’s harder to break out.  And a whole dinner will go by before I realized that I was the only person who spoke fewer than two sentences through the whole affair.  It’s awful.

(Who else thinks this picture looks like pac-man on the left?)

My only hope is that age will bring self-assurance.  If not that, then at least better conversation starters than “Awful weather today, huh?”  Maybe someday, I can speak with someone in a conversation devoid of awkward silences and filled more with comfortable pauses.

I know I made Pumpkin Cheesecake awhile back, but I found this recipe to be much more flavorful than the other one; even though the pumpkin flavor is still quite subtle.  And personally, I prefer the spongey-ness here than the creamy/silky texture of the previous cake.  Sure, there’s a huge gaping crack in the middle, but I think it makes it more rustic, no?  Personally, I don’t really think a water bath is all that necessary to bake a cheesecake, unless you mind the cracks.  And most people don’t.

I think I’m cheesecaked out for awhile.

Pumpkin Mascarpone Cheesecake from Slice of Feist