Waltham Weekly 18
On the Road Again

16 April 1999

Morning all.

It's been precisely 2 weeks, which I figure is close enough. Once again (are we noticing a pattern?) I'm writing about 90 minutes before I leave for a debate tournament over the weekend. This time, however, it's Debate Nationals at Fordham University in the Bronx... this just happens to be the biggest tourney of my college debate career. & after Kraig, my expected partner backed out of the tourney for an excess of work & a lack of commitment, I am going with Adam Zirkin, a sophomore & former LD national champion in high school. Barrett, you may remember Tucker's shpiel on Zirkin being proof that not everyone who won NFL's was a stellar debater. Nonetheless, he's a great debater at this point & I'd even contest Tucker on the point that marginal debaters can win nats. Either way, we're going in with an attitude of optimism, but also understanding of what we're up against.

In the past 2 weeks, I've been doing more or less the same things I always do, with 2 big exceptions. The usual consists of lots of debating, at Princeton with Dalia, not too successfully, & at CCNY with Jordan, fairly successfully, yielding an absurdly ostentatious 3rd place team trophy which, since arriving here in Scheffres 212/213, has been labelled the "3rd bunkbed", the "4th roommate", & a platter on which to serve drinks & hors d'ourves. Other usuals include sporadic attendance of class, writing the occasional paper, & eating a whole lot of meals in our beloved cafeteria with the crazy people who I hang out with here at Brandeis.

But most of the time just now past was Brandeis' famed 2nd Spring Break, where the bulk of the student body deserted the campus in search of matzah & I headed down to NYC to see Gris & hang out in the largest apartment in SoHo. I had a great time & of course Gris's current roommates, Holden & Omer, are no small amount of the fun down in that neck of the urban Eastern seaboard. But I came to a great appreciation while there of just how different people's existences at college can be. I've had passing awareness that my time here at Brandeis varies somewhat from how others live, but it took a full week at NYU to see clearly. Basically, Gris & his roomies revolve around screens. Primarily the television, but also movies, absolutely dominate his waking hours. Gris, Holden, & Omer have cable, an obsessive love for "The Simpsons", & the ever-popular Bond game on Nintendo or PlayStation or some similar mechanism. & while there was time to attend classes & see a whole crudload of good-but-not-fantastic movies, most of the hours were devoted to some form of screen usage inside their room. Which was certainly fine, though it is something that, having watched about 5 hours of television this YEAR at college previously, was quite a revolutionary change. By the way, if you are ever in the New York City area & need to hear a 3-man comedy act, 400 Broome St. is the place to go. Gris & his roommates have a constant stream of dialogue which is about 40% the word "dude" & 55% good-natured insulting of the other 2. It wasn't the least sarcastic week I've ever spent, but it was one of the more fun.

We also failed to do most of the touristy things in the appley metropolis, to which Greg (one of my hallmates & friends here), who grew up on Manhattan, said "good". The World Trade Center looked like a really good idea till we saw a longer line than the towers are tall, with a $12.50 fee waiting at the end of it. But mostly we went to delis & coffee shops in SoHo & that area, & I rode the subway a lot, esp. to get to my debate tourney the second weekend, which was in the middle of Harlem & revealed a completely different side of the island than where I'd been staying. In the end, I've concurred with the analysis of millions who've gone before me.... NY is a great place to visit, but I really couldn't imagine living there. But I'm sure glad Gris does so I can visit so easily!

There has been much talk lately of various colleges' "spring fairs", consisting of visits from various bands that everyone seems to enjoy complaining about. I will now join the proverbial fray. Brandeis' "spring fair" equivalent is Bronstein Weekend, named for one of the thousand & one benefactors we've managed to collect in just 50 short years of monetary drainage of the local Jewish community. I'm missing most of it, which seems to include a lot of food, & picnics, & luncheons, & food, for the aforementioned debate nationals. But not before seeing last night's concert featuring (somebody call Jacob Goodman!) G. Love & Special Sauce. For those blissfully ignorant among you, G. Love & Special Sauce are a trio of so-called musicians whose greatest accomplishment was coming up with that name for their band. I mean, they aren't terrible; not quite as bad as say, that opening campus band we saw at that coffeehouse, Fish & Jake, but they were really not that good. & really, when your great hit is "My Baby's Got Sauce", one can't ask for much. This song, for the (like me) previously unenlightened, consists primarily of half-singing half-rapping the line "my baby's got sauce" for about 12 minutes.

On a note I've been trying to avoid, but must be struck before I close this message, my last surviving grandparent, Betty, passed away recently. She was born in 1908 & had endured & amazingly survived a number of illnesses & ailments along the way, but while it wasn't a shock, it still hit me pretty hard. Much harder than I'd expected, considering this has been a possibility for a number of years. While she hasn't been a huge role in my life since I moved from Oregon, she was a big part of my childhood & made me promise, at a very young age, that I would never smoke & that I would attend college. If nothing else, she got to see me commit to those promises & follow through.

Dealing with something like this at college is difficult, because I haven't really wanted to tell everyone here what happened... as Ariela explained it when I told her that, "it's like every time you tell someone, she dies all over again". But it hasn't been a great week for any of my close friends... three days ago, Zack's girlfriend of more than a year broke up with him & dealing with that has been less than joyous. In fact, we told each other of our own personal tragedies within a minute of each other & both went to lunch & got really depressed & had ourselves a grand ol' cynical time. But this is nothing new to life & the blessings we have outmeasure the hardships to an extent I know I can't begin to appreciate yet. It's added a twinge of despair to what's already been a very empty semester personally, but such is the way life progresses. If it were all easy, that wouldn't be any fun, would it?

& with that I shall depart once more for the land where rhetoric is judged & the ideas clash freely. I miss you all & hope to hear from you &/or see you all as soon as possible, whether that is a matter of days, weeks, or a month. It is now just a little less than a month until we are sent away from Brandeis for the summer & for that, I have enough mixed feelings to sink a battleship. Regardless of which, I hope everyone has a fantastic week... take care of yourselves, write when you can, & don't worry too much about anything. That's my advice & I'm stickin' to it.

Peace, Love, & a Strong Proposition or Opposition of the Resolution,

"Don't mean to dwell on this dying thing...
Look here are we
staring up at the sky & I must confess
I feel as small as dust lying down here
What point could there be troubling
head down wondering what will become of me...
The time has come
time that's all right
Maybe I'll go out in the middle of the night...
All good things must come to an end sometime my love
But don't burn the day
     -Dave Matthews Band, "Pig"


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

[Quotes thanks to Hootie]