Waltham Weekly 5
It's Raining in Boston 9 Miles East
13 October 1998
Okay, so it's been two weeks. Life goes on, sometimes faster than we expect. &, on the way, we have to remind ourselves that it's actually life we're living, not simply some sort of randomly organized exercise which resembles actual experience. In other words, realize what's going on. You're actually here, living your life, right now this very second. It's not a test. Every moment is bona fide reality. Every action now effects the remainder of history.
As far as this report is concerned, you have no obligation to receive, cancel anytime, void where prohibited. Records of the past available upon request. No sales tax. If any of this is beginning to remind people of the "Fine Print" from way back when, groovy. Something never to be revived, but it was fun while it lasted. For those of you who weren't in contact with this, you missed a lot of groans at my pained attempts at humor.
Ever since I left the state of Oregon, I had substantially forgotten the nature of the substance commonly called "rain". This past week, the state of Massachusetts decided to remind me. The past few hours have been the driest in about four days, & I've been extremely thankful. Before that, it's varied between dumping pouring sheets of rain & at least mildly drizzling against an overcast sky. While the mood of October has sometimes been captured in this soggy atmosphere, it's more commonly just been annoying.
Gris came to visit on Friday afternoon & stayed till Sunday night. Seeing him was great fun.... he & John & I hung out a lot, though we spent too much time in the aforementioned deluge(s). We spent Friday night hanging around Harvard Square near the Harvard debate tourney. Which, by the way, did not go well, almost entirely due to my own silly mistakes.... 'nuff said. Harvard Square, for those who've never been to Boston, is much like a wannabe-Berkeley. There's lots of street performers & little stands with funky gift &/or tourist items on sale & coffee shops off on the side... even an Au Bon Pain (Gris's favorite place, lemme tell ya... you should hear him go off on the nature of their bagels... it ain't pretty!) where a few people pretend they're in Washington Square Park (NY) & play pickup chess games. Most amusing amongst those folks is an aging man who carries a marker-on-cardboard sign proudly challenging passers-by to "Play the Chess Mister!". There's also a fairly nice bookstore, called WordsWorth, & a movie theater which half the Brandeis freshmen make a weekly pilgramage to, in order to stay cultured. Looming to one side of Harvard Square stands Harvard University, dubbed by John this weekend as "the preppiest place on earth". The place admittedly radiates contempt for the world around it. But the architecture is nice (with the glaring exception of the Science Center... for which the debate team gave me the following directions: "Go to Harvard Square & find the big ugly building") & there's an unfathomable density of college students in the area (take this however you like), so it's a commonly-visited hangout.
Upon returning to Brandeis on Friday night, & reminding Gris (bound up in NYC for the past 5 weeks) what such things as "trees" & "squirrels" are, we found ourselves hungry at 3:30 am & proceeded to the Waltham Dunkin' Donuts... the only place open for 5 miles in every direction at the time. The walk was everything an October experience should be: a short hike through dense mist & fog in a sleepy New England village late at night... the streets deserted, the air nippy, the atmosphere ripe for some sort of discovery. We discovered that Dunkin' Donuts doesn't make terribly good egg-n-cheese croissant sandwiches at 4 in the morning. A valuable lesson, duly noted.
Saturday was wet. After lounging around Brandeis for the bulk of the day, & introducing Gris to some of the oddest characters in Sherman Dining Hall (we were besieged by folks who must've given him a very strange impression of the school), we caught the 6:30 free shuttle into Boston & met John at Boston Common, the oldest park in the US. Not the place to be in a cloudburst. We followed this with the brilliant decision to save 85 cents each by avoiding the T (Boston subway system) & walk down Newbury Street to John's dorm @ BU. It ended up taking over an hour, & we made several important realizations. None of our "rain" jackets are waterproof. In fact, Gris's makes nice blue & purple tie-dye patterns on the shirt he wears beneath during a rainstorm. Also, don't keep as much paper in your pockets as Gris & I usually do. Finally, for those of you who recall our high school episodes with "waterproofing" shoes, all of ours failed the test. Once we finally reached John's dorm room & checked in with the ever-silent guard at the door, we were all soaked to the skin. But we sat around, dried off, ordered Chinese, played darts, & argued about the merits of being passionate about mushrooms & broccoli.... it was just like the good old days, only transplanted a bit, lacking several people, & wetter than Philmont. But it was fun. Fish called Gris & I when we returned to Scheffres 212 & I think we managed to send his phone bill through the roof, but it was great to hear from him directly.
Sunday we went to the free concert in the middle of Boston. While the attendance probably didn't live up to the sponsor radio station's prediction of a quarter-million people, it was an unbelievably crowded experience. The sheer sense of humanity one gets from standing, packed like sardines, amongst tens of thousands of people all trying to see & appreciate the activities of four or five guys on a stage in front of them, is somewhat indescribable. Unfortunately, the timing of the line-up worked against us, so we were only able to see half of the Barenaked Ladies segment (it was still awesome), though we did see (endure, according to John & Gris) all of Sister Hazel's act while waiting for BNL. &, to my chagrin, but John & Gris's joy, we missed all of Hootie & the Blowfish. It rained only sporadically during the concert, but almost constantly during our run back to John's dorm to pick up Gris's bag & then the trip to South Station to see him on his merry way back to the land of concrete & honking taxis.
Today, I did very little. I tried to study a bit, talked to some guys on my hall, ate, cleaned up the room, listened to a lot of music, etc. Nice to know that not every day at college has to be the model of productivity.
Spending the weekend with Gris & John was great, but it reminded me (esp. when everyone went home) how tough it is to make real friends, & how long it'll be before I have really solid friends here. I don't know if this is just my experience, but I have yet to find a real niche as far as a group of friends or even any really definite individual friends. I'm sure it'll just take a while... I talked to Gris, John, & Fish at various times about where I'd been this far into 8th grade back at the Academy... suffice it to say that I'm in better shape here so far, by a long shot. I've probably met some of my future good friends, but determining who they'll be will be a time-consuming process. At this point, my closest friend is probably Zack, a really nice guy from Philadelphia who lives across the hall & a door down from me. He was just dumped by his girlfriend (who's been dating him for 6 months & attends Northeastern, also in Boston), so I've spent much of the past week trying to help him deal with that. At one point, he said that if he & his girlfriend don't get back togther, he'd "become all cynical... I'll become just like you, Storey!" So, I guess he knows me fairly well... hehehe. There's also a group of folks developing some sort of clique, consisting of Andy (my roommate--the good one), Adam (a guy who seems nerdy but is actually just smart & bored), Todd (a spoiled brat from LA), Frances (a really nice girl from California who's wasting her time in a quasi-relationship with Todd), Maureen (the really short girl... she now admits to being 4'10"), & 'Stina (who is finally understanding the concept of "space" & will probably end up being a fairly good friend). They all hang out in Scheffres 212 much of the time, so I'm kind of part of the group, though I doubt they'll all end up being long-term friends. Chris is still being completely un-civil... he hasn't said a word to me in over 3 weeks now. &, as a matter of some sort of poetic justice, I'm in many ways rooming with Marple. There are distinct differences, as Gris pointed out, but Andy & Marple have a great deal in common. But we get along well & have similar musical tastes, so it works out. He's also in awe of my voluntary insomnia... he usually aims for a midnight bedtime. He's a good roomie, but probably won't make a lifetime friend. But then, one never knows, does one?
Anyway, our string of Monday holidays is now over & I must return to class tomorrow (or later today, I suppose). The main Jewish holiday season only lasts so long. My midterms start this coming Friday (or is it "next Friday"?... teehee), & I have 4 between then & the 2nd of November. So, perhaps I should start wrapping this up. Studies have yet to be that demanding (I'd still label them as about parallel to sophomore year back at the Academy), but I also should do laundry tonight & ya never know... midterms could reveal some surprisingly difficult academic challenges. We'll see.
Raised eyebrows in Eliaii's direction as to his latest report that he has a girlfriend! Tell me more, tell me more, yadda yadda yadda.
A recommendation to Barrett to submit the "rime" from 9 October of this year to Other Voices.
A comment to Gemma that, as yet, the bakery is empty... which isn't altogether bad. At this point, I only have the energy to window-shop.
Commendations to Jaque for having the bravery to confront fundamentalists on their beliefs. Don't let them drain all your time, though! I'll see you in a couple weeks!
Questions to Kunx as to whether you've been abducted by aliens over at UCLA or if your e-mail isn't working... We'd all love to hear from you...
Further questions to Freez as to the details of your coinciding (with Jaque) visit to us northern folk. I might as well extend an invitation to anyone else with the means that Jake, probably Freez, & possibly Gris (encore!) will all be visiting John & I in Boston on the weekend of Halloween & if you can get here, we'd love to host you too! We'll have a madcrazy party, yo!
Well, that about covers things. Day-to-day life at college still feels a bit more isolated & a bit less academically challenging than I'd hoped. But all else yields potential, if not downright hope. &, if I don't get altogether sick of the people here using "wicked" as an adverb, if Scheffres avoids being flooded by these recent Autumn rains, if I survive the first of my midterms & the disillusionment of my debate teammates, I'll write much more personal e-mail to well nigh everybody & return to the true meaning of "weekly" updates. I'd love to hear from all of you; those I've heard from a lot lately & those I haven't... I miss you all terribly & hope that everything's going well. Hope you had fun up here, Gris... it was great to have you.
Peace and Love,
"I said mama, mama, mama
Why am I so alone?
I'm can't go outside
I'm scared I might not make it home"
-Counting Crows, "Rain King"
the Past has come and gone
the Future's far away
but Now only lasts for one second
[Quotes thanks to Hootie]