Waltham Weekly 1
8 September 1998
Forgive me for grouping this e-mail & sending it to all of you... I don't have the time to write many different versions of the exact same message in detail, & this way I have time to write in more stunning depth about exactly what-the-hey's going on here in Waltham, Massachusetts. So, here's the chronicle of life lately... if you care. A good deal of this may well be directed more to Fish & Jake, who still have yet to experience the joys of college life!...
There's free time & then there's free time. While I only have 3 (Mon/Wed/Fri), 4 (Tue), or 5 (Thu) hours of class a day, there's all sorts of peppy Orientation activities, as well as just hanging out with folks, who always wanna seem to go hang out somewhere else. It's very cool, for the most part, but I have this sinking feeling that I'll have about 17 minutes to myself for the rest of the semester, & all those will be spent wondering why there's nothing to do. But oh well; so it goes.
When we first hit campus, we were besieged by all these green-shirted Orientation '98 volunteers screaming cheesy slogans & encouraging us to make Lauren Morgan-Smith look suicidal. It was very scary how excited they all were. But all the other frosh ("firstyears", as they try to call us here) were very friendly & nice; I'm still shocked at how nice everyone here is. I keep waiting for their real hostility to emerge, but as yet all is well. As a group, they're not all exactly as sharp as I might've hoped, & NONE of them will stop whining about the places that rejected them (I've been almost slapped by various people for turning down Berkeley & G-town, not to mention Northwestern), but they're all friendly & at a certain fairly high level of intelligence (not brilliant, but fairly swift), so 'tsallgood.
My roomies are cool, but the rest of my floor is cooler. Our end of Scheffres 2nd is the greatest group of guys on campus... there seem to be some floors laden with jocks & fratboys & crud like that, but ours is a very diverse bunch of work-hard play-hard types, which is groovy. Chris, who shares the double end of the natural triple with me, is described by most who first meet him as "intense, energetic, fun, & very flaming", all of which are about accurate. He's cool, but we have extremely different personalities & he's a little like Nathaniel on speed. He's actually hung up my jacket for me several times (I keep thinking I've lost it - it's never been in a closet before!), he plopped an imitation sheephair rug on the bulk of our floor & threatens to maim anyone who touches it with their shoes on, & then there's all the pictures of naked & seminaked guys on our walls, but... such is the price of college. The silver, black, & white thing kinda failed, but he does haul in fresh cut flowers & fashion mags all the time, so.... compromise, right? It's weird not having my own room....
Then there's Andy, who (as I've said before) is vintage Eliaii & Marple combined, circa sophomore year. Not the warmongering end of Marps, & not the outgoing end of Eliaii. More the laid-back, kinda nerdy, kinda unshaven, kinda husky, kinda crack-a-non-funny joke type. But his heart's in the right place & he really is a very nice guy, & he lets me use his computer 5 times as much as he himself uses it, so I can't complain. He has posters on his wall of "Vernal Pool Life" & is probably majoring in computer science, but he means very well. For 2 guys that grew up in the Boston area, they haven't been out much. Andy's almost 19 & a half, & he is still very much circa sophomore year in HS. But really, my roomies are cool & could've been much worse. Unfortunately, neither are really insomniacs.... Chris stays up late, but he sleeps from 5 am till noon or later, esp. on the weekends, while Andy thinks not going to bed till 1 am makes him an insomniac.... he keeps complaining to Chris & I, who have frequent visitors [not THOSE kinda visitors... yet!... ;p ] to keep the noise down. Sigh.
The rest of the hall is really eclectic, but they're great guys. Eric across the hall is from the Berkeley area & is just an all-around down-to-earth fun guy; he lives with Ashwin, from Bangalore, India, who has a larger English vocabulary than 99% of Americans I've met, & Ilya, who no one really knows, but speaks little English, comes from Russia, & has "Russian folk singers over at all hours of the night" according to Eric. Then there's Zach & Mark, typical Eastern boys; Greg, the most obnoxious preppie schmuck you'll ever meet (Schneider would tell you from 100 feet away "that guy's a bastard... you can just tell by looking at him"); Dave from Bakersfield, CA who's not too swift, but very nice... he lives with Decker (one of 4 Mikes on the hall, so we all call him Decker) who looks like the ultimate preppy (I've seen him ONCE when he hasn't been wearing pressed slacks, wingtips, & a collared shirt) but is one of the coolest guys I've met, & Ramneet, who goes by "Ram" & is exactly like Sarat without the popularity or athetic side... all-around nice guy. A good group of guys, all told.
As far as college life goes, I'm never bored. My international relations teacher bluntly informed us today that the course assigns 1800 pages of reading this semester. EIGHTEENHUNDRED PAGES! But he admitted that most of it can be skimmed & no one is expected to do the whole thing. But this whole paper-midterm-final & that's your grade thing is WACKY. If you don't count reading, college has about 5-10% of the work required as HS. 90% of the work is reading, but most of that doesn't appear to be extremely necessary. My East Asian Civ class is 30% midterm & 70% final.... 100% final if that's a better grade than the midterm. 3-5 hours determine your entire semester grade!! It's wacky.... I'm not sure if I like it yet, but I've gotta live with it, I s'pose...
Restrictions don't exist here, which takes some getting used to. There are no dorm checks, no curfews, & the only mandatory events still never take attendance & don't really care whether you're there or not. 100% of your time & decisions are up to YOU. All you gotta do is make sure somebody's paying for you to get books & meals & schtuff like that & do a couple minimal things (sign up for at least 3 classes & not flunk outta them; get an ID card; stay in your own room at least one night a week; follow federal & state laws)... literally everything else is at your discretion. Sex is rampant here, esp. from the release of all parental restrictions which (for some) have been pretty strict. Drinking is rampant, but only off campus. Smoking is rampant, but only outside. HOWever, I've also been stunned by the number of people who have declared themselves smoke-free, alcohol-free, & "voluntary virgins". We're a minority, but a much larger one (by 3-5 times, percentage wise) than at the Academy. Which surprised me, but is very cool. Basically, folks are into everything, into a couple things very little, or into nothing... at least on that front.
I joined the debate team & the MUN team & a lit mag staff & the "CLEANS" organization (sponsor of non-substance parties, events, etc.)... meetings for those will begin soon. There's 2 cafeterias on campus & the food (I think) is really really good... plus they have about 20 beverages available at every meal (including coffee & good orange juice!!).... one of the 2 cafeterias is half-kosher & there's all these jokes about the "Kosher Kops" swooping down to attack anyone who violates the bazillion laws about kosher dining. It's rather amusing, cuz the non-kosher Jewish kids are the harshest critics of the whole system. Everyone here assumes I'm Jewish till I tell them otherwise, & I don't tell too many people unless they ask point-blank. It's distinctly a vast majority here, but it doesn't impact life that much. Except that there's all these cute Jewish girls all over the place!!! ;p It's great! 1.3 to 1 ratio is where it's at, I'm tellin' ya! To those who've asked about Christina, she's basically just a friend... she wants it to be more & while we have a lot in common, she's not exactly my type in the long run... a bit of a near-miss. But she's fun to hang out with sometimes... getting a bit clingy, but whateva. It's early yet. I have my eye on several girls, but I'm basking in the joys of being single & flirting right now... sorry Fish! ;p
Boston is a great city... I've been there 4 times now (just a hop on the block-from-campus $1/each way commuter rail)... we saw an AMAZING Red Sox game last night... Fenway is absolutely incredible. Also went to the aquarium, which is fairly cool, & out to dinner & all... it's a really nice town. I doubt I'll go as frequently in the future (there were all these Orientation-run activities this week), but I think I'll go at least once every week or so. It's hard to describe, other than being a REAL city, in every way. I love it. I'm sure I'll be sick of it by the time I graduate, but right now I'm captivated.
Not much else to report... well, there is (kinda), but I fear I'd bore the hell outta you guys, if I haven't already. I don't know how often I'll write one of these, but I think they're the best way I can manage to keep y'all updated on my life in Waltham.... I'd really love to hear similar detailed reports (if any of you have time) from San Diego, Atlanta, NY, Baltimore, or wherever your final destination may be. Lemme know if this bores the hell outta you or if it's actually interesting... I'm not a good judge of my own writing. & since we can't bop down to the Frontier & shoot the bull anymore...... you get the idea. So, take care everybody, write back, send me the e-mail addresses of the rest of our group (I don't have Kunx's [wait... was that DKunkel@UCLA.edu? I just remembered something like that], John's [still hasn't contacted me... I might call his fam], Eliaii's, Vet's, or McBigot's). So, send 'em along if you have 'em.... I'll hopefully see John soon (if he ever contacts me!).
Anyway, have fun in college! It's crazy, it's a blast, it's wacky! If you don't know now, you'll soon find out!....
Always your local (or not-so-local) Eire Duck,
the Past has come and gone
the Future's far away
but Now only lasts for one second
[Quotes thanks to Hootie]