Waltham Weekly 7
Leaves That are Green Turn to Brown
28 October 1998
In this transient existence we weave across the years of our life, we all must grapple with the changes which usually control us more than we could ever decide them. Each of us makes our own private choices which seem incalcuably irrelevant when compared to the massive spectrum of changes which, though out of our hands, have a huge impact on our lives. Maintaining a contiguous existence, let alone a consistent identity, becomes increasingly difficult as we become more aware of just how many different lenses we are all viewed through. Integrity, let alone sanity, demands this consistency. But that ain't easy, despite these demands. In other words, I always said sanity was overrated anyway, didn't I?
Here ends the overtly philosophical portion of this week's shpiel.
Gris made fun of me (among others) for talking about "the drill" of these weekly messages. No one new is on this mailing list & no one's told me they want out, so I'll stop posting the default message. Though I must encourage Gris to start a weekly mailing of his own, so I guess I'm requesting a berth on his "non-existent list". So it goes.
Jake's favorite time of the year comes twice a year & involves entering & exiting Daylight Savings Time, a uniquely American invention derived from the arrogance required of a society that feels they can mess with time for their own benefit. Regardless, the transfer from EDT to EST (though fear not, loyal friends, my watch remains & always will on Pacific Time!) is quite a shock in Waltham. I recall Freez telling of his surprise that darkness fell early on Baltimore in September. Boston in late October is a whole new experience... as I look out my window at 3:06 pm local time, I see the first glimmers of twilight as the sun sinks to the horizon. It gets dark around 5 or 5:30, which I find altogether disorienting, esp. since Albuquerque summer wasn't that long ago & involved associating darkness with 10 pm, not 6. The overall impact on daily life might not be that significant, but combined with a real autumn (involving fall colors & leaves falling en masse), the general image is always one of a quickly descending evening. Also, darkness here is substantially colder than daylight... the cold in Massachusetts is not bad yet, but has a penetrating quality that I don't recall from previous winters I've spent elsewhere. Nonetheless, the affect of early darkness is reversed in the morning, as I discovered when watching the sun rise with Eric, Ariel, & a girl named Laura earlier today. We were all bored & untired & spent most of the night exchanging those little 20-quesiton dilemma-story things... you know, like the one with the fish & the cat, or the melted block of ice hanging, or "the music stopped, she died, what happened?". Hopefully you all know what I'm talking about or else I sound like a raving lunatic, I'm sure. Yes, that WOULD be different than normal, thank you very much!!
There was a debate tournament out here this weekend, which I got to judge... quite a reward considering I didn't get to judge LD novices till I was a junior in high school. Also very satisfying considering I judged the student president of APDA (the debate association) in the very first round... he's an arrogant schmuck from Princeton, but his partner's a nice guy. It was quite a success, considering we hosted 73 teams, up from 28 the year before... we're not just a rising research university, but also a rising debate university!
Also, Paige visited this weekend... she stayed in Cambridge with a previously unknown cousin, but spent a fair amount of time out here. Among the highlights, she saw perhaps the worst class I've ever had here (an East Asian Civ discussion group taught by a brainless TA to a completely unresponsive class) & we spent the bulk of last Wednesday afternoon & evening walking all over the city of Boston. I mean, all over. & I realized, more than ever before, how densely populated with university campuses Boston is. It's hard to stand on a street corner anywhere in town & not be able to see a university campus of some sort from where one stands. Well nigh close to impossible. Boston Common was drier this time... only one pond instead of two, if Gris & John will recall the rainy six-inch makeshift "pond" created by the monsoons we encountered earlier...
The latest news, even "breaking news", if you will, is that I've decided to partake in salvation & drop my Economy & Society of Modern Africa course. Between the prof tripling the workload from the syllabus to reality, a "surprise midterm paper", the fact that the class is mostly economy & very little society, & much more ancient than modern, it's been a dissatisfying experience. So, from 22 to 18 credit hours we go. Perhaps I am getting a grasp on sanity after all. This should make my life easier all told & make it so that I might even get the grades to keep my scholarship. How 'bout that for a concept. Meanwhile, we've been "pre-enrolling" for classes for Spring '99.... what, Lisha, we enroll for Spring '99 about a week, maybe 2 weeks after you guys enroll for Fall '98 classes??! Anyway, I'm taking mostly fun classes... fun for me being lit classes (an all-Dostoevsky class & AmLit from 1900-1965), history (East Asia from 1800-2000), philosophy (of Religion), & pacifism (War: Causes & Prevention). Should be an intriguing semester, as I try to decide between history & philosophy, or both, & try to avoid the last glimmers of the desire to delve into English as a major. I don't want to hear one word outta ANY of you about serving fries. Not ONE WORD!
One argument for college being superior to high school:
-In high school, PE involved playing a hearty round of Gatewoodball. For the blissfully ignorant, Gatewoodball is the tortorous invention of Lynn Gatewood, a truly sadistic & heartless woman who frequently criticized people for breathing incorrectly & not "showing her how fast they wanted to run". Gatewoodball roughly combined soccer & basketball, where teams arbitrarily received points for hitting the rim, the roof, or other players, but were penalized for making baskets or hitting the backboard. Rules changed every week & failed to resemble Calvinball because it was all authoritarian rather than free enterprise. In the end, Gatewoodball was dictatorial illogical chaos, enforced with an iron scream.
-In college, I'm taking yoga for PE next semester.
So there, progress does exist!
Paige, it was great to see you... good luck with all the college apps & stuff!
Jaque & Freez, looking forward to seeing you guys in the very near future. Halloween should be a madcrazy party up here. Yet, you still have to tell us (John & I) what you want to do up here... Boston is a big place & probably better if not aimless. Freez, I believe you're calling me, correct? Jaque, I can call you if you want, or whatever... otherwise, I can e-mail you instructions on how to get from the airport to a meeting place in Boston or something. We'll figure it out.
Fish & Kunx, we'll try to figure out a time where we can call. It MIGHT even be possible for all four (count 'em, FOUR) of us to call you at once, in which case the phone bill might need to be split 6 ways to account for how long we'll all be talking. Unless we can get some speakerphone somewhere. Regardless, have fun in southern CA!
Gris, I take it you're not joining our Halloween extravaganza. Hope it's all good in NY.
Gemma, you'd love it up here... they showed "Armageddon" for free last Thursday. I got dragged to it (I don't hold that in quite as high esteem) & ended up with a migraine... but you'd like it, if I recall. Glad to hear all is groovy with you... slow down on all the forwards, though!! ;)
Jenny, I'm so jealous about the PPM concert. & you've seen two now... sigh. & Gemma, you too, for that matter!
Jessica (Hass), that's what thou dost getteth for partaking in a class devoid of unShakesperian material. I'm praying for ya anyway, though.
Kate & Shan, I owe you e-mail.
Mom & Dad, don't worry... I'm not slacking off out here... 4.5 classes is still
a lot! Really, it is... looking forward to seeing you on Parents' Weekend...
Well, as the brown dead leaves crackle beneath my feet as I rush between my now fewer courses, know that I'm thinking about all of you. At different times & in different places, fragments of the past rise within one's mind & emerge from the shadows in the surrounding twilight-laden trees. Perhaps we don't have the energy we'd like to maintain it, but it often forces itself into our consciousness & becomes present nonetheless. What can we do? Think, & remember, & write it all down. Remember always that life & education are synonymous... school is an equal partner, but not an overriding factor.
Take care, everyone... I love you all.
"Hello hello hello hello
goodbye goodbye goodbye goodbye
that's all there is
and the leaves that are green
turn to brown
and they wither with the wind
and they crumble in your hand"
-Simon & Garfunkel, "Leaves That are Green"
the Past has come and gone
the Future's far away
but Now only lasts for one second
[Quotes thanks to Hootie]