Waltham Weekly 21
The Sophomore Deluge Begins
21 September 1999
It's been a while.
Last year, there were 20 of these messages. This year, rather than being outlandish & promising miles & miles of additional correspondence, as I'd love to do, but don't dare allow myself to, I'm being a bit more reasonable. My goal is to match last year's total of 20. No more, no less. We'll see how it goes.
Many of you have already commented on the lateness of this particular delivery (the 1st of my sophomore year). It's been an abnormally busy 3 weeks since returning to Waltham, Massachusetts. Or maybe I'm just not accustomed to college & it's taking getting re-used to. Kate & Paige are hereby asked to let me know what they think of getting used to college in the first place. & Barrett, too, when he heads off. How are you all doing? Drop me a line sometime. & Kate, I'll drop you a line soon. Though it looks like friends are coming up next weekend, so I'll be unable to attend either the Williams OR the UMBC debate tourney. My debate season will begin in October at Smith College.
My dad & I drove out here this year, taking all of 2 & a half days to get from our new residence in Albuquerque, NM to Waltham, MA. It was a good deal of driving, but we had good music & good company & got to knock off six states for me (I'm up to 44), so 'twas, as they say, "all good". We took a funky Southern route & ended up at various Waffle Houses across Alabama, Virginia, & similar states, so the trip consisted of all that one really needs in the way of sustenance. We even drove straight through one night, just in time to see sunrise on the Shenendoah Valley. That day we made it to Waltham only to discover that we'd come a full 24 hours before they were letting people onto campus, so the trip's pace was perhaps over-swift, but we caught a Red Sox game & enjoyed this town I live in for an extra day.
Coming back to college is a little like diving into a past life. After spending summer re-aquainting myself with the life I think of as home, it's time to run back to all those friends one was just getting to know... it's a tad bit funky. Fortunately, many things are on my side this year that were not 365 days ago. For example, I'm living in the world-famous Usen Castle this year, the only Brandeis building to be depicted on a postage stamp, among various other accomplishments. Built by some nutcase back in the '30's, the Castle is a full stone-n-cement recreation of the European structures of medieval legend & boiling oil. No boiling oil here, though allegedly Tower B (where we sit so patiently, on the 2nd floor) was used by a medical college in the pre-Brandeis days for storing cadavers which were examined by med students who are now collecting Social Security. So it goes. Regardless of which, this place has staircases to nowhere, like a low-tech La Fonda, as well as plenty of turreted platforms for a late-night chat, with a great view of the Boston skyline to boot. Attached to our tower on the north side is a five-story fire escape, the door to which we leave open 24/7 in order to quickly access the aforementioned views. It just doesn't get any better than this.
Also improved over last year's living arrangements is that whole roommate thing. This year I'm living with Zack Pelta-Heller, my best friend here, well-known for his love of Eddie Vedder and his recent binge of irrationality. He arrived this year bearded & with glasses, not to mention longer hair, throwing everybody off a little. But the beard's been shaved & now he just looks like John Lennon, circa 1968, which he'd tell you is no accident. We have a good time here in room 205, playing computer games and spreading good cheer to everyone who waits outside of Chum's (the local coffee house, whose entrance door is DIRECTLY below our window), and thanking the good lord that we have left our roomies of yesteryear in yesteryear. Between his drunken fratboy roomie & my 3 mental case coinhabitants, we bring a whole new level of appreciation to a shared living environment.
Down the hall lives Greg, one of just six people with whom we share the 2nd floor of Tower B. Greg stops by once in a while, but he's keeping to himself more this year, backing out of fun stuff like poker games because he's constantly complaining about homework. This makes us sad, but there ain't a whole lot that we can do. He's got a palatial single, literally larger than our double, with two giant windows offering a view of Boston. His room is the kind of place that they film all the Brandeis propaganda stuff from... they take pictures of his room & put them in brochures & everybody thinks they're coming to live in the most perfect rooms on God's green earth. It took a long time before any of us would speak to him after visiting his room... half our friends live in the dreaded East quad, with a reputation for ghetto-style living & large bugs walking the halls & demanding tribute from passers-by. Ventilation is so good in East that no window is ever closed in the entire quad, year round, you can always see every last doggone window bent open as far as it'll go... unless there's a hurricane on the way.
Speaking of hurricanes, we just happened to have one pass through a few days back... actually, it failed to do much more than pour rain for a day & blow some really scare winds that got up to.... 35 or something... whoo! No, what made Hurricane Floyd an event at Brandeis was the paranoia that went along with preparing for the alleged onslaught. You remember the ubiquitous "broadcast message" guy from last year? If not, sift through old copies of the WW to figure it out. Anyway, over the course of the 48 hours before Floyd's "arrival", we received no less than six "Hurricane Floyd Updates" on our phone machines, courtesy of everybody's favorite monotone administrative voice. It was a party... enough of one to send half the campus home to follow orders & "close, lock, & tape every window, while moving all furniture & possessions away from a 5-foot radius of all windows". I dunno about your college living accomadations, but out here, a 5-foot radius of all windows covers well-nigh the whole room. & since we didn't want to be plastered to one wall of our room for a whole day, sitting high atop stacked beds, computers, and books, Zack & I decided instead to leave the windows open & beg Floyd to do his worst. Our window ledge got a tiny bit wet. What all the fuss was about, I dunno, but at least we got a good bit of joke mileage out of the whole deal. Most of these consisted of predicting East to be hit with the brunt of the winds, split apart, and have little chunks of the quad blown into the Castle, where they would promptly bounce off the best-built structure on campus. None of our East-dwelling friends found it that funny, but we certainly had a good laugh.
I'm still hanging out with all the old folks from last year, though Risk has passed on for lack of a desire to repeat last semester's 70-game pace. There seems to be a sort of group of about 8 or 9 people coagulating together into what some might call a clique, but we're not all that exclusive & half the people don't really know what to say to the other half, so I wouldn't count on this lasting forever. Besides the fact that there's enough exes of other exes in the group to make everyone have a real good time. But it's enough of a group to make us all feel like we can't go make many other friends, which is not exactly what anyone needs. Though there seems to be a large difference between freshman & sophomore year in that respect... last year, we all had the excuse of being first-years, so of course we wanted to meet people. This year, it's expected that one has already found friends to hang out with & so the universal friendliness has been chopped off at the knees. Nonetheless, I digress.
Debate & Model UN will assuredly return with renewed vigor as the weeks progress... well enough to consume my life again as always & give me even more reasons to explain to my friends why I never do homework. Speaking of homework, or classes for that matter, I'm taking 20 hours this semester (a nice round number), consisting of 2 history classes (I declared this as a major last week), 2 philosophy classes (I intend to declare this as my 2nd major this week), & Computer Science. Now everybody, sit back up on your chairs, & I'll explain. THIS IS THE LAST SCIENCE CLASS OF MY LIFE! But sadly, it's required, so I've gotta take it. Fortunately, it's a pretty basic course, officially entitled "Intro to Computers". Thus far, we've covered the World Wide Web, the Internet, & we have to make a webpage for next week's homework. Good thing I made one on my own about a year ago. Something tells me this class won't wreck my GPA.
Beyond that, there doesn't seem to be a ton to report. Life on the whole is much as it was last May... most people didn't change much over the summer (one can't really expect them to) & everybody seems overjoyed to be back, for the most part. Zack's already been home again once & Ariela twice since arrival, so it seems that college is not such an independent experience for all as I might make it out to be for myself. My connections to home will have to rely on the pictures of Albuquerque on my wall, phone calls, e-mails, & visits. Everybody is welcome in the Castle! Between our room, Greg's room, & the gargantuan Castle Commons, we've got space galore for everybody, plus the kitchen sink (every Castle room comes equipped with a sink!). To test this theory, Freez, Gris, & Jaque are all stopping by next weekend from Thursday or Friday till Sunday, which should be a great great time. & of course John'll be over from BU to make it a full party. We're working on getting tickets for the RedSox-O's game, right, Schneider? Methinks everyone approved of this, but we still have to figure out what day to go on. Tickets are getting scarce at Fenway these days, considering Boston has all but clinched a playoff spot & they're even chasing the Yankees, which makes every Fenway fan proud. Zack & I had to get tickets from scalpers the other day after the game we'd been planning on seeing was sold out... it's something everyone should do once so they can learn enough to never do it again. But it was worth seeing the Sox drub the Tigers 9-1.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Anna & I founded the Brandeis Meditation Club, set to meet once a week for a nice relaxing eve of mind-clearing fun. We wanted to call it something spiffy like "The Sound of One Innermost Part" (our school motto is "Truth, even unto its innermost parts"), but we settled for the BMC to make our message clear. It should be a good time & after taking yoga last semester, I'm ready to be even less stressed about school than I was last year. Pretty soon I'll have a pulse as low as Schneider's & they'll routinely claim I'm in a constant state of shock.
So, everybody, now I've communicated... it's your turn! I haven't heard from some of you in good long ages.... I won't name any names, but you folks know where your keyboard is. Every year is a new year, filled with new resolutions to keep up with everyone better than I did last year & I'll reaffirm that commitment here & now. I've even put off processing the so-called "Box of Doom" for this (hopefully, guys who are about to visit, you WON'T see what I'm talking about... it's this box overflowing with random papers from last year, some important, others trash, all taking center stage on our floor & threatening to consume the whole room)! & those of you who have written, I'm working on more personal responses as I speak... promise promise promise!! College has a funny way of making everything seem inert & hectic at the same time & I'm still working on adjusting (or re-adjusting if you will, & I think you will...) to what that can do to one's inspiration. But onward we trudge, into the abyss, not knowing what course awaits us, clinging together against the unknown like trees in the wind. Or something very much like that.
Whoo boy, it's time to move on, time to get goin'. This message is getting a mind of it's own & soon will be the source of much confusion, if not for you, than for its author. I hope this year is finding everyone in a hopeful state of mind, with good cheer & brimming with vigor. Freez, Gris, Jaque, & Schneider, I'll be in touch about the upcoming visit. Kate & Fish, I'm sending you e-mail pronto with a side of very soon. Shan & Jess Hass, let me know how the transfers are going & what it's like to be at a new college all over again. Everybody else, write me & I'll reply.
Take care & have a great week! Win friends, influence people, have a good time....
Peace with a Little Bit of that Love Thing,
"Looking all around the room
I see the clutter and the gloom
I'm not only back
I'm not only numb"
-Gin Blossoms, "Not Only Numb"
the Past has come and gone
the Future's far away
but Now only lasts for one second
[Quotes thanks to Hootie]