Waltham Weekly 16
The Long March
22 March 1999
I know. Almost 3 weeks. & no, you probably don't want this to be three times as long as a normal one of these messages to make up for it. There's not a lot I can say about being busy... excuses are all the same & they all have the same validity - life is inherently busy; sometimes we keep up & sometimes we write "weeklies" every 2 or 3 weeks. Forgive me.... I'm still sending much more than I'm receiving from almost all of you.
What have I been doing? Perhaps remarkably little for how long I've been away from the keyboard. Weekends have been filled with debating. Pelta-Heller, upon my return from the latest debate, concluded that he & I, despite being roommates next year, will never see each other on the weekends in the future. The latest stops have been Wellesley (a week ago) & Swarthmore (a day ago). Wellesley is the most beautiful college campus on God's green earth. The architecture is amazing & the rolling fields of well-kept green grass don't exactly detract from the overall appearance. The library is admittedly an unfortunate contender with Harvard's dreaded abomination of a science center, but it at least makes the effort to be "cutesy" modern instead of just "really darn ugly" modern.
Those of you who recall last year's college application process will remember that Swarthmore, shortly before wait-listing me & never calling back, was as close as I came to a top-choice. The campus was a bit disappointing & I wasn't overwhelmed by the enormity of the loss I had incurred upon stepping on campus. However, parts of the campus were quite pleasant & the overall atmosphere was one of niceness. You might note the lackluster adjectives in place... though I admit that seeing Brandeis only through the lense of a debate tournament might decrease its attractiveness as well. The most objective comparison I can make is that Swarthmore is DISTINCTLY smaller than Brandeis, which is a slightly frightening contemplation... you might compare this discovery to finding that something is actually less sizable than a postage stamp.
Those of you who also recall the banter surrounding last year's college application process will remember that I had a yearning to apply to Bryn Mawr & spent altogether too much time taking this frivolous idea seriously. After visiting the campus, I find that Wellesley might have been a much better choice for my all-female school to try to desegregate. Even if it's well-nigh impossible to find old high-school friends on the campus. But they, like Brandeis, have a very effective voicemail system! Ah, the unique joys of modern technology & our overly advanced society....
Which is a subject much discussed by Gris (the high-school friend I DID see in the past week) & I upon planning his sub-trip to Providence entirely in ten minutes on the internet. Having Gris in town was great fun... he managed to play 9 games of Risk & about 35 of ping-pong in his tenure here... I think these 2 competitions were the low point of his week, considering that despite a great deal of competitive spirit & ardor, he was remarkably unsuccessful in both endeavors. Other than that, we spent a good deal of time with Schneider (overlapping with pingpong & Risk, in which Schneider was contrastingly triumphant), touring "old haunts" in the city of Boston (mostly a snowy cold empty Boston Common & a dry warm packed Park Street subway station) & hanging out with the folks I share the whole Brandeis experience with. & Schneider managed to find sesame chicken served with absolutely no shred of "random unordered vegetables" to get in the way. At least the fortune cookies didn't read (as Gris has received before) "The only danger could be your own stupidity." We also spent a lot of time going down hillsides on trays at high speeds. But this activity deserves its own paragraph....
Sledding is no longer as popular 'round here as many claim it used to be. Though its heyday has passed, sledding at Brandeis has been kept alive by a few loyal followers, namely Greg, Ariela, myself, & a handful of our friends. But sledding is no easy task; one needs a few basics to set the proverbial stage. First, snow. This was bestowed upon us in great volume over the past three weeks, consisting of two major storms which combined to give us about a foot of snow. The joy of receiving these two storms cannot be expressed & was tempered only by those absurd people who actually hoped for school cancellations, forgetting that the last (& only) cancellation of classes due to snow at Brandeis took place in the early '70's & was the result of something between two & three feet of total fallout. The second necessary element for sledding is stolen trays. Alright, all of you fans of "gray areas" & the like out there, I admit to assisting in the theft of a number of trays from Brandeis University's various dining halls. However, I think we can all agree that sledding is part of a good university education & that the means for this are provided within the cost of tuition. Thus, we're not stealing so much as taking what's rightfully ours. Besides, the process of taking them is an enjoyable challenge & we can always return them in the end sometimes, making it all an act of borrowing! The latest big heist was pulled off by Greg & I in Usdan Student Center, when a large stack of oversized metal trays (more like cookie sheets) appeared in front of the bagel booth. This required skilled distraction of the bagel booth ladies & a quick run down the stairs & exit through the mail delivery room, all completed in less than a minute & yielding two of the best sledding trays you've ever plopped your rear end on. But the real prizes, as one might expect, are the Kosher trays. Stop laughing; I'm serious! While a typical ("Usdan") tray is quite effective in negotiating the steep hill just south of the library & the large metal ones are slower but steadier, nothing really compares with a Kosher tray. Found only in the heavilly guarded Kosher section of Sherman, these prized possessions come in two colors, one for "meat days", the other for "dairy days". Unlike the plastic fantastic Usdan deals, the bottom of Kosher trays is perfectly smooth, the sides rounded, & the tray itself reinforced with some sort of interior metal, making the chance of breaking a tray almost nil. As a result, the Kosher trays run much faster down the hill, & end up going further on the base of the hill once the field has evened out again. The latest theft of Kosher trays was performed almost single-handedly by Ariela & with such ease & such little flack from the so-called Kosher Kops that we have become almost overconfident in our tray-appropriating abilities. Our other nagging fear is that the Kosher Kops, much like Orwell's thought police, never strike directly at the scene of a violation of kosherness, but sit back, observe, & wait to strike at the most inopportune of moments. Every time we fall asleep, we fear waking up to a bright white room in a whole building devoid of pig where the Milk People fight the Meat People all day every day. Or worse, we forsee a graduation day where our names are announced &, on the way to the podium to accept our diplomas, masked individuals swoop out of the crowd, ambush our approach, & whisk us off into the woods never to be seen again. On the stage, a calm Jehuda (our president, pronounced Yeh-hoo-dah) explains with a curt "Two trays, one fork, & a misplaced bowl," then proceeds to the next name on the list. It rains on the kosher & the unkosher.
Debate has continued to offer me a sturdy weekend home at various universities & I have become increasingly aware of my inseparability from the entire concept of debating, let alone the actual event. I'll probably be debating forever. I've gotten a good number of novice awards &, when we debate together, Kraig & I have done very well. Swarthmore featured a new debate partner, a non-novice (currently a sophomore trying to graduate after next year), named Dalia. Dalia is a rather nice individual, less annoying than Jeff Light, but she lives under the mistaken notion that everyone she meets is desperately interested in hearing about her elementary school dental records & everything less important in her life. This did not mesh well with a seven-hour car ride down to Swarthmore & an equally long return trip on the following day. I had thankfully brought my dilapidated but surviving walkman & a handful of tapes, plus the ability to fake falling asleep, but even these handy tools could not stave off a good 2-3 hours each way of Dalia's boring life history, told in stunningly unimportant detail. When people start describing their older brother's best high school friends in detail to someone they'd talked to for less than an hour total previously, one wonders about their sense of relevance & the "big picture". Nonetheless, we managed to make it to the octofinals (round of 16) in a very tough tournament, losing to the 2nd-ranked team in the tourney (from U-VA) because Dalia insisted on running a case that's nearly impossible to win. But it was a good weekend on the whole & we debated well in spite of the obstacles. In the spirit of the NCAAs, the tourney held a pool once the round of 16 was announced, whereby anyone (including judges!!!) could turn in a sheet predicting how the playoffs would turn out, with a $40 prize to the winner. Our bid to be the proverbial Gonzaga fell well short, as I doubt anyone predicted us to win our first round & we didn't. But the winners of the tournament tied in winning the pool... only they had the faith to predict themselves winning it all.
I'm beginning to lose a little faith in my ticket for the ranch. Though people all around me are encouraging me to demand that the drawing for the ranch be held immediately. I'm not so sure. I'm thinking that cashing in the ticket for a garden would be mighty nice, but even that potential seems to be running a little slim. I fear that time is running low & I may just end up writing a big long wrenching letter to the organizers of the ranch, telling all & giving up. Hmmph.
No, most of you weren't supposed to understand the above paragraph. But if you did, bully for you. I'd actually be curious to know what some of you think it means anyway. This could be an interesting experiment indeed.
Fish & Jake will be here soon & I look forward to that with great anticipation, as I enjoyed Gris's latest visit greatly. I wish Jess the best of luck on getting into Wellesley... though I'm sure she has nothing to worry about & will transfer shortly. I encourage all you juniors out there, specifically Kate, Barrett, & Paige, to give me some idea of where you'll be going to school next year, if this is any clearer than it was a few months ago. I encourage you all to join debate... almost all of your schools are in APDA (the debate organization) & it's great fun for the whole family.
I'm no Roberto Benigni, so I won't tell you that I have any desire to be Jupiter, kidnap any of you, or lie down in the firmament, etc. etc. However, I do miss you crazy people & hope to see you all or hear from you all (or both!) in the very near future. If everyone joined debate, think how much we'd see each other! I'll get off my soapbox now & retire to the quaint little sketchy community that is Waltham. At least there's always good ice cream, a few sunny days, & the ducks on the Charles River. We'll leave the Dr. Strangelove on for you. Gris knows what I'm talking about.
Take care & good night,
the Past has come and gone
the Future's far away
but Now only lasts for one second
[Quotes thanks to Hootie]