15 April, 2008

Memories... continued [Reposted from Facebook]

Location: 1987... amherst...

Well… I dwelled for a little bit on the memories that are now forming, in the present, on which I will one day reflect. Now I guess I will spin the wheel and see where it takes me, backwards in time. There are some obvious places, of which I have spoken many times, but not written here. Thinking about the track team in high school, and all the pranks we played. The various people we terrorized. Chris Muntz (whose terrorizing resulted in the coining of the phrase “Muntzbusters”). David (with his “Superman” glasses). Danny (whom we called “Dick-whack”, because of his last name), and good old Steve (whom we mocked for his stuttering, among other things). We were evil and vicious kids.

But I won’t tell you any of those stories today. Because those would be cheap. Easy. Overtold. Recycled. And probably quite familiar feeling, since though the names and flavors of torture would be changed, they probably echo stories you’ve heard elsewhere.

So I will let my mind wander… to other places.

Freshman year of college. My first girlfriend. Hm… should I really tell that story? I don’t know. How personal can we get here? I’ll tell you just a tiny bit about her, and then we’ll jump to something else. Okay?

I went to UMass-Amherst. This school had many students, and there were many dormitories. The dorms were divided into I think 5 or 6 residental areas: Southwest, Northeast, Central, Sylvan, and Orchard Hill, if I am not mistaken. Each residential area had a different style of buildings, and different feel. And the kinds of people who lived there were often self-segregating…

Southwest = the party dorms. Many newer brick buildings, including like 5 towers that were 22 stories

Northeast = the brainy dorms. Very quiet. Lots of engineers and English majors.

Orchard Hill = on top of a hill, 4 dorms (the names were Field, Grayson, Dickenson, and something else…) where you probably got a lot of music types and a general mix of people

Central = the oldest dorms – run down brick dorms – I don’t know what kind of people were there – it didn’t really have a reputation, other than it seemed like a lot of people whom I thought were cool lived there.

Sylvan = these were the newest dorms, I think, and they were suites, so you’d be living with a group of other people instead of just one or two roommates. I didn’t really know anyone who lived there, and I just pretty much dismissed this as the dorms for weirdoes (yes, that is how Word is telling me I must spell the plural of “weirdo”).

So, when you applied for housing, you needed to rank your order of preference from first to last, of the 5 residential areas. And what I didn’t know, but found out later, was that if you ranked Southwest anything other than last you were probably going to be put there, because it was the biggest housing complex. It was where crazy things happened, and where there was always partying. I think I had ranked my order as Northeast, Central, Southwest, Orchard Hill, Sylvan. And I ended up in Southwest. In a tower called George Washington Tower. On the 11th floor. I think it was either 1102 or 1101, which meant it was a corner room. The way the building was designed was such that the two corner rooms on each end of the building had a window that faced each other – i.e. the building was somewhat shaped like an “H”. Well, freshman year, I was in 1102, let’s say. And Laura was in 10xx = whatever the corner room was, one floor below, with the window facing mine. In case you’re wondering, Laura is the girlfriend I said I’d tell you a little bit about. Maybe I will. Yeah, I will.

I don’t remember too many of the people that lived on my floor. I remember lots of wild kids. My roommate, Eric, was my best friend from high school, and we decided to share a room. Probably not a great idea, because we were not that much alike. Plus, as fucked in the head as you might think I am now, I think I was like 5 times as fucked in the head then, so probably not a great roommate. Not particularly considerate, not really a great friend. Just sort of self-absorbed. I hope I am better than that now, at least a smidge. The only other guy on my floor that I specifically remember was this guy Ralph, who played guitar, and played it very well. He could play the song “Cathedral” from the Van Halen album “Diver Down”, which was a really cool song that had a lot of volume swells in it, done by rapidly turning the volume knob on the guitar while doing hammer-on’s with the left hand. I never could play it, so I was impressed. Wonder what he is doing now? He was a very nice guy. But I never really talked to him after first year – I think he might have been a chemical engineer?

So… I think I got to school on like august 30th or something that year because freshman had early orientation. I think I had enrolled to be in the honor’s program, and then quickly decided it was more work than I wanted to do, and basically ignored everything that would have been required for me to be part of the honor’s program. I was very much a lost sheep that first year. I missed classes in the first week or two, because I could not find the buildings, and was too embarrassed to ask anyone. It’s a confusing time.

Anyway, on or around September 5th, I was looking out my window, having noticed a few times that there was a pretty blonde with a really goofy looking denim jacket with a floral pattern on it, who would sit on her desk in her room, which was right next to that window, and she was just hanging out talking either with her roommate or friends, or whomever. And I would look down at her. And I guess somehow on the 5th, she saw me looking down at her, and she waved to me or something. And then I guess we met. I’m not sure what happened in the week between the 5th and the 12th, but I do know what happened on the 12th… so Laura was my first real girlfriend. Unless you count Tina, a spritely little girl from Sharon, Massachusetts, who fulfilled the role of a different kind of “first” when I was 16 years old (interestingly, she is the last Jewish girl with whom I had a relationship, unless you count Sasha, but Sasha was married, so maybe really shouldn’t be counting her). And before Tina, my only other high school “girlfriend” was also from Sharon, and her name was Amy (not Edna). I was really in love with Amy, but to the best of my recollection, I think we only went on a few dates. She was one year older than me, and that apparently remained an insurmountable problem through the entire year that I tried to get her to go out with me again. And the other thing was that her breath smelled like the frozen breaded fried clams. So maybe it was okay that she never came around. I’ve dated other people whose breath smelled like other things good and bad, and I am sure that mine has smelled both good and bad at various times, so appy-polly-loggies to anyone whom I offended all those years, as my good droog Alex would have said (please, somebody, recognize a “Clockwork Orange” reference when you see one). I had one girlfriend whose breath miraculously smelled like green Lifesavers – and she did not eat Lifesavers. That is something to be happy about. But I digress.

So back to where? September 12th, 1986, I guess. Well, yes. Pop goes the weasel, so to speak. She was my freshman year girlfriend. Actually, I should qualify it and note that it was my weasel that was popped since hers had apparently popped with two other high school boyfriends. Ironically, and here’s a memory for you! I got blamed for stealing Laura’s precious girlhood. Being that we were trying to be responsible, Laura and I were actually using birth control almost immediately. She decided to go on the pill. And many months later, maybe it was the summer after freshman year, Laura was at home and her 11 year old sister Allie found her pill container and said “Mom, what are these?” Suffice it to say, her mom was not pleased that Allie found these. I was “invited” over the house to have a talk with Lenny and Diane. And I remember how uncomfortable it was. I remember Diane saying “How is this supposed to make me feel?” They had invited me to come to Florida and stay with them earlier that year, because Laura and I were both so miserable over winter break. And I stayed with her family down there. Come to think of it, I just remembered that! It’s kind of miraculous that my parents LET me go to Florida, alone, to meet up with her family and stay down there! I remember sitting in the kitchen, trying to get permission from my parents, and even being amazed when they said yes. Wow! I think that we drove back! Yes. Her family drove back. And come to think of it… I remember me and Laura ATTEMPTING to fool around in the back seat of the car, playing touchy-feely on the car ride, with Diane looking in the side-view mirror at us. I think at one point she told us to keep our hands to ourselves, or said something like “I can see what you two are doing back there”. We didn’t care. We were 18 year olds in love. Unstoppable. Well, then we had the talk with Lenny and Diane. The funny part is that Lenny really wanted no part of this talk. He was very mild mannered, and he was actually a leukemia survivor, probably only about 50 years old at the time. I remember Diane telling us how hurt she was, and then she says something like “What about you, Lenny?” and Lenny is like “Um… yeah, I’m hurt”. Blah blah blah. They had to give me the big talk because I stole their daughter’s maraschino cherry and little Allie had to know that this was BAD. But sadly, I did not steal it. It was gone when I got there. I didn’t even get an olive or a piece of celery. And Laura never set the record straight, at least not on my clock. Shortly after that, we fizzled in the summer time. I am not sure if maybe Diane forbade Laura from seeing me? Or it just got too complicated. I remember conversations about religion because she was in an Italian Catholic family. I remember her saying “We’re just too different”. And we broke up middle-to-end of the summer. I guess. I don’t really remember. I do remember going to a concert at Great Woods (Tweeter Center, sort of like “The Gorge Amphitheatre”) with her in a hot hot summer day. And that may have been one of our last dates. I don’t remember who we saw, but it may have been The Bangles. When we arrived back at school in September, we started talking again. Laura actually got very sick near the beginning of that year, and I remember she had bronchitis and a fever, and was sleeping in her room, and I came to see her. She had cut her hair really short. I visited her a bunch of times the beginning of that quarter. And I remember we kissed some and then we had a discussion about getting back together. And for some reason, not sure why – perhaps stupid guy games – I told her the whole thing about it would never work because of our families or because we’re too different. I don’t know why. She pleaded with me to try, and I said no. Then about a week later, I changed my mind. Of course. And I told her I wanted to try. And she said she’d started seeing this guy, David, who lived on the hallway. That was 1987. Laura and Dave married, and are still together today running their own medical practice with 3 kids, living in Amherst, after having moved around the country (Carolina, Chicago) for his career. She’s a nurse. He’s a doctor. They make house calls. Can you believe that? I guess it’s a good thing I told her that we wouldn’t work!

And I’m still not married. But that’s not a memory. It’s more of a process…

That’s my Laura story. Except, to give you an idea of the fact that we were not completely blissful… in that first year, Laura and I did indeed fight a lot. And we had an obsessive relationship. Actually I think the obsession and control came from my side. I was a bit crazy. When we met we lived in Washington Tower (where, one year earlier, someone had jumped off the 22nd floor window and splattered to their death on the concrete below). We both decided we wanted to move to Orchard Hill. Once again, moving involves a lottery system. I was very much concerned that Laura and I should live in the same dormitory. I do not know why I was so concerned about this, or why I felt such a strong need to control it. But I went to great lengths to “manipulate” the system so that we would be close. I am glad to say that my control freak tendencies have subsided now that I am almost forty! But I think I went to the housing office and had them staple our dorm requests together so we’d get put in the same place. What difference did it make? Why was I so obsessed with us being in the same place? I do not know. So we did end up on the same floor. I was living with a guy named Ralph (a different Ralph) who was from Mattapan, and played his stereo SO LOUD that you could hear Cameo doing “Word Up” through two sets of closed steel doors, as if it was through headphones on your ears. I was afraid of Ralph, but for no good reason. Laura lived 2 doors down, and I basically slept in Laura’s room every single day for that semester, except when she kicked me out during fights, which would last into the wee hours of the night. Laura was a huge U2 fan and I remember listening to Joshua Tree more times than I care to recount (non sequitur). Laura’s roommate Dory became a good friend of mine, and fortunately she tolerated all of the bullshit and craziness, and probably tolerated lots of us having sex with her lying awake in her bed. Nice girl. Thanks Dory… I remember one time Dory flipped a coin 100 times to see if probability held true. And I guess it came out 50 heads and 50 tails. She subsequently wrote in Sharpie on her wall “You can’t fuck fate… I tried”. I always liked that quote. I actually liked Dory quite a bit, and there was a tiny window of time years later where I probably could have and should have dated her. But I did not. Now I think she’s a lawyer in New Hampshire, still single, and raising a baby that she intentionally had on her own. But I might be mistaken.

I punched a lot of walls back then. Got in fights with Laura and punched walls. Never broke my hand, but bruised it really badly many times. I had rage problems up until maybe 30 or 32 years old and then they became much less, and eventually disappeared almost completely. But I punched walls. One time we had a big fight in the foyer of our dorm on the 3rd floor. And there wasn’t a wall there. Just a large glass window. And I punched that. And nothing happened. And then I punched it again. And the entire sheet of glass went, crashing down to the sidewalk below, where apparently a friend of mine was walking in – but was not hit by the glass. I never got caught for that, and was only cut slightly. I probably would have been thrown out of the dormitories if I had been caught. Laura was irate. I think a friend of ours put a scare into me, letting me think that the powers-that-be knew I had done it. But they didn’t. and I got away with it. So things were not completely rosy. But we had good arguments. She was a LOT like my mother, and for that reason, it is probably a good thing that I did not stay in that relationship.

I am flying over a part of the planet that looks like another planet. Brown alluvial fans in all directions. I think “alluvial” is the word I mean to use. I cannot look it up in the fucking thesaurus though, because apparently you need an internet connection to have thesaurus or dictionary in Word. That’s bullshit. I don’t know where I am. It’s 6:35pm Salt Lake City time, which means we’re going to land in 90 minutes. So… where could we be? South Dakota, maybe? That would make sense. If this were Jet Blue, I could look at the special little flight map. But it isn’t. It’s Delta, which means I need to swipe my credit card if I want to watch bad reruns of Two and a Half Men (which, incidentally, was one of my mother’s favorite shows, I am told). I kind of need to pee, but I don’t want to make the girl on the aisle stand. She is cute. Middle seat empty. Thankfully no obnoxious freakshow cult nutjobs from Jackoff City sitting next to me this time, and hogging both armrests. But I digress… again.

Are you tired of reading yet? Good news for you is that I only have like an hour of battery life left, so it’s got to end sometime.

Would you think more highly of me if I were to regularly use words like arable and alluvial? Because I can do it.

I am tired of Word telling me not to use sentence fragments. Everything I write is a fragment. Like this, for instance. Aha. But now, it is not flagging it because I said to ignore the rule. I wonder will it ignore the rule if I create a new document, or is it per instance. Shall we see? We’re good to go. I can use fragments to my heart’s delight now. Good.

Okay. This is deteriorating into nothingness, and I really need to possibly do #1 + #2 now, so pretty girl will need to stand up or else things will get ugly around here.

Back from #1, no #2 because I don’t want to die shitting because turbulence (or, “chop” as the pilot calls it) causes me to break my neck in an airplane restroom. That would be undignified. We just flew over Denver, leading me to believe that we did not fly over South Dakota. Who the hell knows. Maybe it was Nebraska. That would make sense, but I didn’t know there were alluvial fans there. You can tell that I am a big fan of the alluvial fan. You could even say that I am an alluvial fan fan.

It would be convenient if Google could make a laser overlay on the actual globe that identifies cities and major highways for you, so when you’re flying, you’ll know what things are. If they could do it in Google Earth, why can’t they do it on regular Earth? That would impress me.

Ooh cool! A map! Delta does have a special little map doohickey that I was able to access. It says we have an hour and 3 minutes to our destination. And we are at 34000 feet. Traveling 400miles per hour. The temperature is -49 degrees Celsius! That’s a new one! I never knew that. And we are indeed west of Denver. Cool beans. What else can I tell you… it’s -56 degrees now. The headwind is 224km/hr. that’s fucked up. How could that be true?! I am not sure I even believe that! That’s 139mph headwind. The Jet Stream is that fast. Wild. I learned something useless and new.

Okay. I will stop wasting your time.

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