Standing in that same overcrowded bus station, cradling a box of houseplants under one arm, I realized something: I think I've traded my cynicism in for faith.

Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. I'm still not convinced that this world is inherently good. I can't quite bring myself to believe that everyone I meet has redeemable qualities. And I'm still more likely to give a dry, sarcastic answer--or none at all.

But lately I've been feeling a lot more optimistic. The past few months, my life has been filled with small randomnesses that give me warm fuzzies. An unexpected invitation to a party full of intelligent, geeky strangers, a Friday seminar mysteriously cancelled two weeks in a row, the smoker who stopped himself to move downwind of me. Little things, true, but they've seemed like almost-miracles. My life feels balanced. For all of the steelingly painful things I endure each day, there's been a sprinkling of tiny, glowingly pleasant things. And I'm almost beginning to think that maybe the future isn't set, to trust that this time, I'll emerge holding more than I did before.

I also realized that when faced with hordes of pretentious, sheltered, rich college kids, there is nothing better than industrial music.

Except maybe a crowbar.