Waltham Weekly 13
Status Quo Overthrown

3 February 1999

"So I looked at the scenery
she read her magazine
and the moon rose over an open field
'Kathy, I'm lost', I said
though I knew she was sleeping"
     -Simon & Garfunkel, "America"

Greetings All...

Well, it's been one heck of a week, half spent here in Waltham & half spent up in Montreal. In the words of Aaron Traeger, perhaps the most eloquent & brilliant speaker of our time, "Canada is cold, cold, cold, cold, cold." Actually, he's one of the whiniest people on God's green earth, but such is not the primary subject of this message. As always, if you don't want this message on a (kindasortamaybealmostnotreally) weekly basis, lemme know & you'll never see it again; back issues (all twelve) are always available to newfound recipients.

I feel compelled to say that every so often.

This was like a week of headlines with no room for small text... spreading out these events would have been better for the sanity but worse for the happiness, so it all evens out. First off, Chris moved out about 3 days ago, finally ending over 4 months of occupancy without civility. A sophomore on the hall is taking this semester off, which vacated a single & made it possible for him to leave & another member of the hall stuck in a 3-people-in-a-room-meant-for-2 situation to move into our room. The good news includes the fact that we now have 4 (yes, one more than the required number) beds in our back room... one extra for guests or renting purposes... & all the desks in our front room, making it possible for dear sweet light sleeper of the century Andy to go to bed at 9pm if he so desires & me to stay up & work or play on the computer till 5am if I want. This one fact alone is cause for immense rejoicing. The fact that we have more open spaces than a Saskatchewan winter is another. When Chris & his reign-of-terror were in place, between his rug & Andy's & my being stuffed entirely in the back room, things were rather cramped. Now I am reminded of an amphitheater whenever I enter the room, we can leave our doors open, & there's all kinds of wall space for more posters & other random postings. All is well. Well....

There is the new roomie. & don't get me wrong, I'm going to preface this by admitting that he's a good guy. Todd's heart is usually in the right place. Usually. But the fact remains that he's got 2 gaping minus-signs, which often become difficult to ignore on even an hourly basis. For one thing, the guy's a snob. He's wealthy, he grew up in southern California in one of those ultra-ritzy regions of Los Angeles where movie star-sightings are passe & they charge five bucks a glass for water in restaurants. He complains about darn well near everything, not because he's whiny (in his opin), but because it doesn't meet his standards. His standards which he expects to be shared by all decent & civilized people of the world, including those who could never dream of affording one day of his standards in a lifetime. Hand in hand with all this is the fact that he's a neatfreak. I mean, organization & cleaning have never known a stronger ally. But it's taken to excess. Since moving in on Monday, he's already sparked comments like this from Stina, "How does Todd expect to sleep on a bed with sheets laminated to the top of it?" If I stand in one place too long, I start to sincerely fear being bleached or having my liver sucked out with his ultra-high-powered vacuum. His closet, as you may recall from last time, is color-coordinated. Even Andy is becoming concerned that his tool-kit might be deemed too dirty to remain in the room... this after he spent ten minutes seeking his shoes which Todd had conveniently slipped into the new wall-mounted shoe organizer. It's like a cloth edition of one of those sneaker-keepers from a McDonald's Playland. When I start to see my reflection in the carpet, I'll draw the line, but as of now, it's a vast improvement from the previous situation, so we're running with it. When one asks for a door & gets a window, it's best not to complain about the absence of an opening.

But the best of news revolves around the trip to Montreal for Model United Nations... 4 days at a hotel near McGill representing the Republic of Peru, trudging through arctic weather to the student hostel or "night life" in Montreal, then back again the next morning. In all honesty, it was one of the best weekends I've spent since coming to college, if not the best. While Brandeis won just one honorable mention award between the 11 of us, it was still a great conference. Representing Peru is a little like representing cottage cheese, but the compromising neutrality of the country was a nice switch from Libya.

Montreal is a great old city... described by those who would know as a cross between Paris & New York, scaled down a little. Built on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence, it feels like a walk-in freezer that someone forgot to remove from Antarctica. Now I recall that a lot was said to me when I was contemplating schools in the Chicago & Boston areas, considering my thin frame & tendency to wear several jackets at once. But after returning from this trip, Boston winter days seemed to be begging for shorts & sandals. I have never come close to being that cold in my life... it is a sensation entirely indescribable to those who have never been truly cold. Especially when the narrow back streets funnel the wind between the 10-story buildings & make the individuals walking the sidewalk feel like dartboards. While there had been much recent snow in the Montreal area, no snow was to be found on the streets. In places, however, where snow drifts might be found, there were solid blocks of ice, sometimes as high as a foot & 3 feet wide, which offered great opportunities for slippin'-and-a-slidin'.

Aside from the cold, Montreal offers a wealth of night life, derived primarily from Quebec's drinking age of 18. This offered the whole team, minus three (myself, Leslie Brody, & Janna Rosenberg) an opportunity they yearn for back in the States. The three of us of a different opinion spent most of our three nights in Montreal perusing coffee houses instead of bars & having some pretty groovy conversations. Leslie & Janna are roomates in a triple (with a girl named Maryanne)... they took all the roomate luck from the rest of North Quad & took it for themselves... the 3 of them are the best of friends. They're all very interesting people, & hanging out with them was quite a bit of fun, even if Janna has a tendency to be a bit too happy. I don't know if I could stomach seeing the rose-colored lining on that many clouds every day. Nonetheless, we had a great time, even on the 7-hour bus ride back, featuring all key points in New Hampshire & Vermont. These 2 states were one long valley of snow, with the occasional hamlet with a population hovering around 47, which inevitably had a full bus depot & loaded about 5% of the town's populous on the bus. New England is true to its stereotypes more often than not. The sleepy little village image was embodied on this bus ride... as was one of the most gorgeous moonrises I've ever seen (just happened to fall on a blue moon), while we scooted through a snowy field just this side of the Canadian border. The conversation was good & I realized I've made 2 very good friends in addition to all the other benefits of the past weekend.

Back at the ranch, I'm realizing that while a lotta change can occur & turn things upside down, the general routine of college is as steady as just about anything else. & I'm kinda liking it. As with the rest of life, nothing is exactly simple or straightforward... a lot takes effort to save from disaster time & again. But by & large, adding more cliches & generalizations than I could possibly imagine, college is settling into something I'm really enjoying. & while I'm not about to become the next Janna Rosenberg, I'm feeling fairly happy a good bit of the time. Classes are solid, but still have very little work so early in the semester. Risk has fallen off a bit, but still has a following. & I will never again consider Massachusetts a cold place to be.

I hope this message finds everyone doing well, & taking all changes in stride. I can see the proverbial roller coaster of life getting some major structural work in the next couple of weeks... primarily to bury the dives in the ground & raise the peaks about a mile. But that's life & it's not so bad. Take care & I'll hopefully contact most of you very soon independently. The Harvard (high school) debate tourney is only 2 weeks away, for example, & I expect that a good number of us will be there collected; I can't wait to see you all! & I'm on AOLIM & ICQ too much of the time anyway these days, so... have fun, everybody...

Peace & Love,

"Bad matzho balls make good paperweights."
     -Andy Becker


the Past has come and gone
the Future's far away
but Now only lasts for one second

[Quotes thanks to Hootie]