Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ask Manton

Ok, so I had this crazy idea of involving the readers in this thing, but it was clouded with doubt over whether or not I have readers. Thanks to a special li'l tracker, I have now realized that I do, in fact, have readers. A nice amount, actually. When I brought up the lovely li'l number to a friend, she said, "man, no one seems to want to comment it." And no, no one seems to want to.

So I'm asking for you to change it.

A lot of you have been reading since the beginning, and some have just caught on recently. The point is that you've probably gotten a pretty good grasp on the way I think and the variety of topics I cover. I have decided that I am going to open up the next blog entry to you, the readers, in a special write up entitled "Ask Manton."

Here is your golden opportunity to fulfill that dream of being on that tall kid from high school's blog !!! Exciting, isn't it? You can do this one of two ways. If you want to be anonymous, leave a comment in this post. If you perfer e-mail, just click here and shoot me off an electronic letter (lol no postage lol). Questions can range from anything to everything, but I refuse to talk about Seabiscuit, as that damn horse always makes me cry.

I am really, really depending on you people to not make this a complete failure and make me look like an asshole after I just got a confidence boost by seeing readership numbers. Don't let me down. Or I'll cry. Like when the other jockey goes, "enjoy the ride" to Tobey Ma...sorry. I've already said...too much.... Excuse me!

Monday, May 29, 2006

A Night To Remember (while working to forget it)

There are pivotal moments in every young person's life. There is graduation, where you move on from High School and step closer to adulthood. There is the first time you drive on your own, feeling that first swipe of freedom. The first time you have sex is an important point (but not always the most memorable other than it being the premiere performance). The same goes for the first time you smoke the dangerous and illegal marijuana, get pulled over, and having the cops raid a party. This story will be about my second christening, entering the halls of the incredibly drunk, thanks to Toto, Sonic, and a little green bottle.

It started out as a special night, alcohol aside. Hated rivals Boston College were making their final appearance at Walter Brown Arena, facing off against my beloved Boston University hockey team. The biggest rivalry in sports (according to Sports Illustrated) was even bigger on this night, as it would close out a storied history in WBA as well as the possible 700th win for BU Coach Jack Parker. BU/BC hockey games are like concerts...except for the bitter hatred for a certain section of the audience. The Terriers won 2-1 and I was jubilant to say the least.

I hurried back to my dorm overwhelmed with joy and energy. Simply not knowing what to do with myself, I ran down the halls to some of the sophomore girls' rooms. They were all in Katie and Cindy's room, doing shots of something. Without hesitation, I double fisted two shots, thanked them, screamed "BC SUCKS!" and ran away, possibly kicking doors and walls on the way back to my room. Once I got there, I quickly changed out of my jersey and khaki pants into some jeans and a t-shirt. Charlie, my dorm neighbor, knocked on my door and told me to come to his room to watch Sonic the Hedgehog and maybe drink along with the show.

Yes, you read that right - Sonic the Hedgehog.

One day while reminiscing about childhood TV shows, Charlie brought up how he liked the second Sonic cartoon, the "darker" one, which was on ABC Saturday Mornings and had Sonic as a freedom fighter against Dr. Robotnick. Thanks to the internet, I downloaded every episode ever made. After viewing a few episodes, we realized that Sonic (voiced by "Urkel" himself, Jaleel White) said a lot of dumb things. Sonic made use of a wide array of terrible puns, 90s slang words ("tubular" "radical" "gorbachev" etc.), and was generally incredibly annoying.

We mixed this new idea with an old staple called UV Blue. It was a handle of blueberry-tinted vodka that cost twenty bucks. It was so good, in fact, that upon first procuring it, Charlie claimed you didn't even need a chaser to put it down. That quickly changed. UV Blue was more prevalent than water on our floor for a few months. We eventually wizened up and mixed it with blue Frost Gatorade from the vending machines downstairs.

Charlie came up with an idea for a drinking game where we take a drink every time Sonic says something stupid. Zack (friend, and future roommate) and I agreed, thinking it could be a fun way to get kind of drunk. Looking back, it would be a perfect way to get drunk, and you could sip away on beers for hours and get nicely hammered by the end. The fatal flaw in this system was that we didn't have beer, just somewhat diluted vodka. This never occurred to us to be any bit of a problem, let alone to someone still excited about a major hockey victory.

Another mistake was the cup that I played with. It holds about 24 oz of liquid, which means I roughly had between 6-8 shots of vodka per cup. Luckily, I only had one cup for an episode. Unfortunately, we watched three episodes. I was so happy and giddy as I drank away to all of Sonic's hack, cheesy quips. "Whoa, watch out for RO-BUTT-NICK!" would blare, and we'd all yell "stupid!" then sip away. Well, I would gulp. I lapped the other two guys a full cup (and mine was bigger than both of theirs) by the time the game was over. Then it got surreal.

While watching The Wizard of Oz dubbed with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon that Charlie downloaded, a mystery bottle popped up. I had never seen the mystery liquid, but anxiously waited pouring it down my throat while I munched on salsa Doritos. That little green bottle contained Jagermeister, the thick, licorice-tasting drink that has taken better men than me. I believe it was medium sized, but who even knows. What I do know is that between Zack and I we killed off Charlie's bottle, not even allowing him to have a sip. And yes, we drank straight from the bottle. And yes, I hate licorice. Joy+Booze+Doritos+animated hedgehogs=up for anything.

The bottle was kicked somewhere after we were all looking for the dead, hanging munchkin. I got bored of watching a movie with strangely in synch music on top of it and wandered the hall of my dorm to socialize. For about an hour I had many conversations that involved people talking and ignoring my incomprehensible mutterings. I stutter when I normally talk, and when I'm nicely buzzed I actually speak perfectly. Once I'm drunk, it would be easier to understand a cabbie. In this case, it'd probably be easier to understand a dog.

I eventually wandered in to my room to pass out around 3:15. I changed into an old t-shirt and the maroon shorts I wore every game of Tennis senior year (honorable mention all-league, thank you very much). Before I hit the sheets with the room just slightly spinning I noticed that my roommate wasn't here. Odd, I thought, just before succumbing to a sleep that would wash my drunkenness away like the few other times. I was not an experienced drinker when I got to college. In fact, the first weekend of college involved me taking three shots of Southern Comfort, seeing Commonwealth Ave bounce, and handing my id over to a small blonde girl to swipe in with. This was the picture:



My relative inexperience with alcohol set me up for a rude awakening at 4:15. I woke up by lurching forwards, sitting almost in an Indian style, and vomiting profusely. Racing out of my stomach was the crude mixture of too much vodka, Jager and salsa doritos. I puked all over my covers, myself, and possibly the area around my bed. After a moment of "holy shit I really just did that," the bed was stripped and I tied covers and all into a hobo's sack-situation and plopped it on my floor to be dealt with in a more-sober morning. I then realized I puked all over my clothes, so I threw my shirt, shorts, and two pairs of boxers into the pile as well (I still don't know where the second pair came from, nor why I felt the urge to take a clean piece of clothing and banish it to the vomit) before changing into a fresh pair of undies.

It was then that I realized I wasn't done yet. Inconceivably, there was more in me that wanted out, post haste. I got up and opened the door and experienced a level of fucked uptitude that I never want to even scrape again. My vision was like when you watch old movies and newspapers spin towards the screen - I was the newspaper. To further hinder my grip on reality, I see Charlie sleeping outside his door in a big inflatable chair. He did not seem to notice me, and I didn't have time to give him a proper greeting.

To get to the bathroom, I had to run through the elevator hallway, through a door to the men's side, through another door in the bathroom, and then to a stall, a trip lasting roughly 300 feet at maximum. If anyone was up they would have seen a 6'4" man in his boxers haphazardly run-stumbling to the bathroom. Once the destination was reached, the knees were on the tile and the face was around the toilet shared by 25 other individuals, I puked like I could win a metal for my ferocity.

Eventually, I made it back to my room to sleep on my bed cover with my comforter. All I wanted to do was go back to sleep and act like this didn't happen. My head hit the pillow like it owed me money, but there was something weird about it, mostly that it was damp. Immediately I pulled my head up and surveyed the situation. It seems I did not wake up and vomit, but rather that I woke up puking, as there was a spray going outwards from where my mouth was on my pillowcase. The case came off, the pillow thrown to the side (away from Death Valley), and the back up throw pillow was called up from the minors to get the start of a lifetime.

At around 11 AM I hear someone walk in and say, "what the fuck happened here?" It was my roommate Collin, returning home from...whenever he was, rightly confused. With the sun breaking through the cloth shades I saw the damage I had done. There was bright red liquid everywhere. The genius twisting I did to keep all of the vomit enclosed in the bedding fell apart, and the neon red juice spread, as if the dam broke. There was red on Collin's sweat shirt, on Luke's cd cases, on Collin's weird, skanky rug.

I woke up and ready to clean it and nearly fell over. Another first was hit: waking up wasted. It baffled me, as there was simply nothing left in my system, so how could I still be drunk? He was very nice and accommodating (one of three times that year where that combination came from the right side of 516) and said he would clean up a bit and would wait for me to sleep off the rest of my drunken stupor before letting me clean. I insisted on starting to help, but had him wash some clothes while I tossed things out. My Hilfiger sheets, tennis shorts, boxers and pillowcase were deemed unsalvageable. My makeshift triage condemned the pile to a quick, painless death after the suffering in the night. Collin went downstairs and watched his sweatshirt and some other articles of his and mine that were in the blast radius. He also had to say goodbye to his ugly, smelly rug, which was the one positive of the whole situation.

I fell back to sleep only to be awoken by a Buildings and Grounds Worker (custodian) telling me that I can't hang wet clothes from the extremely sensitive sprinkler heads outside. Collin offered to wash the clothes, but not to dry them, apparently. I crept over to the clothes outside, through them on the floor, and fell back asleep. At around 1 PM I finally got up and attempted to clean the bright red out of...everything. In some cases it worked beautifully. In others, well, Luke can tell you what's the new third color in his black and blue cd case is.

The rest of the day was spent being a patient with visitors. Everyone on the floor came by to pass on their condolences, with one girl saying "oh, this happens to me all the time," which baffled me. This was also the point where I swore off alcohol forever...well for a month....not really, just a few weeks...ok next weekend. I had to call up my mom to explain what happened to me, but more importantly to the expensive sheets. "Do you know how much those things cost? And you just threw it out? It's not hard to wash these things, Michael." She also was convinced I had a drinking problem for a few months.

I should hear back on my lawsuit against the writers of Sonic the Hedgehog for damages incurred based on their shitty dialogue some time in July. Fucking Urkel.

Monday, May 22, 2006

You're Never Leaving Silver Street

You would never think it possible, but as a college student you pack up your life every eight months. Before you start that long--or short--trek back to your hometown, you first have to go through the agonizing process of packing up all of your belongings into packages that fit neatly into giant, gaudy rolling crates. The life that you lived for so long gets put into that foldable cardboard box that you forgot was even behind the dresser, ready to be forced into a different location; an unsuitable one.

The clothes are the easiest to put away, even though the total stock has almost doubled in size (is it magic or credit cards?). My favorite part of packing is the Random Box of Assorted Crap. This consists of everything in your drawers and the medium sized stuff that is too big to slide between the box and the speakers or not big enough to get its own space, like the printer. The RBoAC holds a lot of the small pieces of your college life that you forgot about. Here you will find the box of pens you never thought you had while you carry the embarrassment of asking everyone you know for pens safely in your heart. This is where you find that love note from your girlfriend that crushes you just when you were feeling strong. This is where you realize you have a lot of condoms. This is where you find those notes that answered that question on the final you took yesterday. This is where the small intricacies of your existence pop up. This is you. This fact hits you on the ride home, when you're still drunk on Tequila from Cinqo de Maio last night and your dad has to drive because you would surely kill tens of people if you were behind the wheel.

I have found that there is a certain duality in character that pops up when you go to school. There is nothing wrong with this system, as it just seems like the natural order. The Michael P. Anton--affectionately known as manty pants--in Boston is not the same one that left for the Hub in the early Fall of 2004. You grow in different ways. Most distinctly, there is a disconnect between the future, the past, and most importantly the present. My world in Boston very rarely, if ever, touches my life in Jersey. It is always weird traveling in between my two worlds because there is a whole Connecticut that is merely there to buffer these two people, locations, lives that I inhabit. No offense to Hartford, but you're nothing more than a transition.

When you come home from college, you find your old friends, your family, where you grew up, but you don't find home. The very simple term becomes convoluted. I can't tell you how many times I would order something on line and it would say "home address" and I would end with a 02215 Boston zip code. There were times where I'd tell my mom that I am going home on Saturday because I have a test on Monday I have to study for, and I'd see that little pang of her heart through her eyes. Home is where the heart is, and it's slowly leaving her sight, leaving the bedroom that shares a world with hers.

But, for four months a year, I am privileged to return to my roots and live in New Jersey. I get to sleep in the same room that I have slept in since I was locked in a crib (not technically, of course - no need to call up DYFS). I have the honor of reconnecting with friends who are moving on in their own ways. Here we all are again, thrown backwards from our forward course straight into neutral, or even reverse. We are all square pegs that are being forced into that old circle hole. I'm always surprised when asked about if I miss my friends when I'm at college, or why I don't visit them or talk to them a lot. For me it's simple: we all have our lives to live. Why bother Steve when he's meeting new people and experiencing new things? I can go years without seeing him and we could pick up right where we left off. For the record, I see this as a positive.

As I have mentioned before, dealing with old classmates isn't exactly the most fun experience (hence the use of the word "dealing"). At one point we were all organically connected through high school, struggling through together. Our rally cry of "we have to get the fuck out of here" was loud and clear. Then we reach a point where we're all back in the place we wanted to escape from. Some people enjoy their return to normalcy, to what they remember; relying on the familiar. Then you start to talk to an old classmate and the only thing you can share and discuss is how great college is and how weird it is to be back. We are all still unified, it just happens to be in confusion.

We all share the same false sincerity and just try and not be called an asshole. I was talking to someone who I barely kept in contact with at school, but now I have a strange urge to talk to her all the time. We had the "college is great" conversation, and I voiced my displeasure with being home. I then divulged that I would be spending my summer next year in Boston. She then brought up her house by her school. Then, I told her that it was time to offer invitations that no one will ever follow through with, and say half-heartedly just because it's the "right thing to do." We both are invited to the other's place, but we'll probably never go. But hey, at least we're polite.

There are some people that you don't want to see because there is too much left on the table. Some people meant everything to you the last time you were on this soil, and mean almost nothing now. Others have been perverted past recognition. Further still, some people you have seen grow up and be something you might not like, nor would enjoy having reflected back on to yourself. It's easy to talk about when you're 225 miles away, and very tough to put into action in reality. Some doors simply should not be opened, while some were closed too soon. You can always use the rotating one, but sometimes it gets vicious after a few cycles.

After all of that fancy talk, the sole issue is it isn't so easy defining yourself without a backdrop. It is weird leaving a city where you live in anonymity to a town where three generations have some idea of who you are. Every action goes from a drop in the ocean to a disruptive ripple effect. I got weird looks when I went to shoot around on my own from my friends. "Why didn't you call us?" I was asked. I didn't have a good answer, because that's just how I lived. What is considered singular and normal is now selfish and irregular. Nothing I did change, just where I did it.

The truth is that the cardboard boxes can go anywhere and survive. My printer has no more significance in Boston, Taiwan, Jersey or LA. The picture frame is a time stamp from my prom no matter what happens. The sticky blue stuff for my posters is just another unidentified gum-gluelike-paste-kinda-substance. All of those things just make it easier to define myself. That box is full of comfort that what I'm doing is right. It is packed with landmarks of my journey to where I am now. No matter where I am I just have to do something that is unusually hard.

I just have to be me...once I figure out what that is. Any idea which box that is in?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

AIM Culture

Around 9th grade I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up (whenever that is). I wanted to be a writer. Such a profession requires a person to fully know their character, and therefore would mimic the actions and feelings of real life people. This would nicely transfer into believe plots and characters, and a better piece overall. For the last six or seven years now I have been astutely observing different quirks of teenagers. At least, that's when I tell the cops when they ask why I'm outside of a sixth grader's window with binoculars. Pervert, they say. Good student, I say, while trying to hide the erection by turning 45 degrees to the right.

The main form of communication between kids these days really blossomed when I was growing up. AOL Instant Messanger is the place to go when you want to make a conversation with someone without the awkward pauses of a conversation on the phone. You can also use that erase button, so you don't blurt something out like "well I want to fuck I MEAN HANG OUT!" AIM, as it's called in the hood, has grown with my generation. And, over time, different trends have come and gone. For example, chain ims have been drastically cut down. This is a good thing, because I am going to murder the next person that sends me the "AOL doesn't know if your screen name is active so send this to 20 people and annoy the fuck out of them." I have gotten over 30 of those so far. They are fake, people. When will you learn?

One new form of communication is the away message. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, you put up an "away" when you aren't at your computer to warn people of where you persently are. It is also a good way to filter out the ims that you don't want while always keeping it on and having the ability to talk with it up. I wouldn't know how incredibly awesome that feature is though. Nope. Not in the least.

The away message has become its own form of expression. For example, if you are depressed, you'll put up some dark and terrible lyrics from Slipknot, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, or some really sad *NSync song. People will use the away message almost like a barometer for how you are feeling. I get many disconcerted ims from people when they see "everything is less than zero" on my away. It is not depression that drives me to put that up as much as my love for the Elvis Costello song. The away is also a great way to show how you feel after a break up, after a sports event, or any other affair.

Some people do not properly know how to use the away message, however. I have already gone off on people who think they are so important that they must give you a full run down of their day's activities. What I have not gone into, however, is the art of the away. If you have an away with lyrics, no one reads past four lines. The apple of your eye will not read those Coldplay lyrics when it's the whole goddamn song and all of the choruses are written out. Your expected reaction of "aw, is that for me?" is replaced by "man that bitch is wordy!" The sad thing is that we all read away messages when there is nothing to do, and some people have boring ones like the extra wordy kind. Short, concise, to the point.

When did people decide that when emphasizing words they would throw on the extra letters as consonants? People say stuff like "I want to go to sleeeeeeeeep." No one says "I want to go to sleepppppp." What kind of an asshole says "SleePUH PUH PUH PUH PUH PUH PUH PUH?" It is the most annoying thing ever. Well, it is next to when someone is writing and feels the need to capitalize every other letter. Do YoU kNoW tHaT yOu LoOk LiKe An AsShOlE wHeN yOu Do ThIs? Apparently not. I also will never understand why people feel the need to shorten four- and five-letter words with numbers or misspellings. Is saying "cum" so much easier than saying "come?" Is "4eva" necessary when you can simply say "forever?" If I see someone say goodbye to me and with "l8r" I would be tempted to drive to your house and spit on your face. As Americans, we already butcher the English language practically beyond recognition. There is no need to go out of the way to ruin it further.

Another odd phenomena that has started recently is the term "faves." In a sentence it is used as, "great time with my faves!" Why do you have to tell your friends that they are your favorite people? Isn't that a bit redundant? If they weren't your faves, why would you hang out with them? "Yeah, I hung out with the b-team last night, cause they just aren't my faves right now." Who is going to put up an away with "decent time with the benchwarmers?" I do hope that there is one kid in each group who reads the aways and gets some sort of false pride that they are someone's favorites. Before they go to bed, they take the toothbrush out of their mouth and look in the mirror, saying with confidence, "I'm somebody's favorite!" I then hope that they hop in that lukewarm pool with a Bic and take yourself out of the gene pool while listening to that sad *NSync song in Jessica's away.

People also like to fool or trick you by putting text in the same text as the background or in a different font. It is as if they are trying to hide what they want to say but do so in a very easily decodable situation. It is somewhat akin to the Japanese giving out their military code in WWII followed by "ok, don't let the Americans know the code is such and such" in English. If you want to say that deep little message, just save us all the hassle of copy and pasting the text into an im box and changing it so it's legible. Oh, and you're not witty if your decoded message says "you're a loser if you can read this!" No, sir or ma'am, you are the loser for thinking of that hacky joke. It would have been more original and entertaining if it said "take my wife, please!"

Finally, there is a definitive pattern to profiles, or "buddy info," because you can't use the word "profile" for non-AOL members. It would be far too confusing, I guess. The top line is devoted to the guy or girl of your fancy, or in certain cases, the lack of such a factor in your life. If you're in college, the next line is dedicated to your school's name. If you are an incoming freshman, then it's the school and your year of graduation. If you're a girl, the next line is for your friends (or redundantly stated "faves). For guys, it might be sports team or a quote from your buddies. The use of deeeeeep lyrics (or "deeppppppp lyrics" if you want me to hate you) can be anywhere on the board. A new feature I have seen is the start of a lyric at the top and the end at the bottom. This is illegal. The bottom of the profile is allotted solely for people who have passed on. I have no idea why this structure was created, but it's as standard as a tax return. Try and find something different - I dare you.

There are fads in profiles as well. For some time, the "copy and paste this in your profile if..." and then there would be something hilarious like "YOU CAN'T WAIT FOR SUMMER" or "YOU SURVIVED A PIRATE BATTLE." No you didn't, stupid. And who the hell doesn't want summer? "Oh no, I can't go not learning and not waking up at 6:30! Whatever am I to do with my wasted brain power?!" I am also a fan of the windings character to start those things off, because apparently using the all-picture text didn't become trite after the age of eleven. Of course, I have given in to this after hating it for so long by putting in one for Seb, a...well, friend is too close, and peer is too cold, so...a former classmate who is in the army currently.

Then again, that isn't the first time that I have hated on something before giving in to it. If I didn't, you certainly wouldn't be reading this. Instead, only two of you would be hearing my rants while your eyes roll and ask "doesn't he get tired of hearing himself talk?" This is post number 59 - clearly I don't.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Fear and Loathing in Atlantic City.

One of my favorite comedians, Li’l Jimmy Norton of the Opie and Anthony radio program, was playing in Atlantic City. When Jimmy announced the May show in early April, I decided that I had to go and see that meaty-breasted nothing perform is comedy along with fellow comedians Keith Robinson and Dave Attel. The show, being held at the Borgata Hotel and Casino, was sure to sell out quickly, so I had to scramble to find someone to go with.

Luckily, there is always my mom.

Good ole’ Cathy has been an avid Atlantic City visitor over the last ten years, even earning a special exclusive membership with Harrah’s Balley’s Claridge Hotel and Casino (it’s been bought out twice). My mom is also a listener of O&A, as well as a large fan of Jim Norton (although she’ll never admit it). I called her up instantly, knowing that we could easily get a room at the Claridge and we could take a cab by the marina and see the show. Perfect fit!

The plan was absolutely flawless. I called up for tickets, she called up for a room, and a month before the show we were set. It was far too easy. Then I realized I had to drive the two and a half hours down the Garden State Parkway with her.

Uh oh.

My mom is not a large fan of driving. She never had a longing to get behind the wheel. Born in Brooklyn and relocated to Queens, my mom would walk or take public transportation everywhere. It was only after getting married and moving out to the ‘burbs in Jersey that the idea of driving became an issue. Once she was pregnant with me, it was time to actually learn. I don’t think that learning to drive while you have a child inside of you is the best way to learn how to love the act.

She is less of a backseat driver and more of a passenger seat panicky screamer. It got to be so bad that I refused to drive without her being quiet, pulling the old “I’ll turn this thing around!” by literally turning it around on my parent. To be quite frank, driving with my mom is much like how she views driving: a necessity.

On the way, she tells me that we should take the express half on the Parkway. I absolutely cannot STAND the express side. For some background, the GSP splits into a local (3 lanes and all exits) side and an express (2 lanes and a few exits). Over the course of my driving south of exit 100, I have learned to never get into express because there is ALWAYS an accident and the “express” becomes “standstill.”

I voiced my displeasure when my mom said to stay to the left after the bridge, but she assured me, saying that there are three lanes now the whole way down. You can see where this is going, can’t you? I believed her, against my own better judgment, and stayed to the left.
As soon as the divide came up, just as I hit the point of no return, immediately when I could not go back, there is an accident. I swear to you the timing could not have been better. We sat in bumper-to-bumper for about 15-20 minutes before finally getting on our way.

About 5 miles into the 22 mile stretch of pavement the right lane becomes exit only, allowing people in express to get off for the PNC Bank and Arts Center in rustic Holmdel, NJ. That lane escaped the Express strip, and I awaited its return. If there is an accident on Express, then there is only one lane, and you are pretty much beyond fucked. Of course, that lane was never to come back. Thankfully, there was nary an accident the rest of the trip. If there was, I would scream until I spit blood. Having the flu and a sore throat, I’m sure it would take five seconds, which really demeans the whole act of spitting up blood.

We arrived at the hotel at 4, and went to the luxury, glass-ensconced check-in. There, I heard six or seven older ladies get into a conversation about the new anti-smoking laws in Jersey. One woman couldn’t believe it. My mom was telling everyone how thankful she was that she quit smoking, raising her hand in the air as if to swear it so. A woman behind the desk was saying that she drank but she has never driven after or while imbibing, even when being prompted about other questions. One older lady was adamant that second-hand smoke was a myth and didn’t see the problem with smoking. I was looking to smother myself in my book. Unfortunately, there is always that air crease when you open the book up—even in the direct middle of a book—and my suicide attempt was unsuccessful. Luckily, the check-in was over in a few minutes, and I could leave that vapid discussion, fading away like smoke into the atmosphere.

While walking around the hotel I realized that Atlantic City might be the strangest mixture of people in the world. Only here can you find black people mixing with incredibly racist Guidoes. Only here can you find so many fat white people with so many rail-thin, shrinking, blue-haired old white women. Only here can so much money be taken away from people, be it from robbery on the boardwalk past 8 PM or from the casino itself.

The hotel room itself is a very telling indicator of what clientele the hotel will traffic. For example, you won’t find fine wine bottles in a Motel 6 for your consumption. This room that I’m currently staying in is definitely meant for the older generation, between 50 and 60 years old. It is a two-bed set up, with its own nice bathroom. It is certainly not out of the ordinary. But, there are always telling signs.

These people love to gamble. They are Italian, from Jersey, and have been going to the shore for years. They have money, which is why they are so fancy and elite in this hotel chain (which means that they have spent a fair share of cash losing to the casino, and they want to show their appreciation by giving you more incentives to lose more money).

More importantly, they don’t want you in the room for long. As soon as I walked in I felt like I was in Boston again. The thermostat read 60 degrees, and my piss nearly froze just as it went into the super-large toilet. I have never in my life seen a toilet that is specifically designed for such a fat ass that it has to be wider and larger just to accommodate the heavy set. Once again, 50-60 men or women traffic here, not unbearably thin 20 year olds.

The kind of people who inhabit this room also like to feel fancy. The hotel accommodates them with a safe box where they can store their gaudy gold chains and other Jersey-centric jewelry, so they know exactly where their pawn-able products are when black jack takes a bit too much out of the wallet.

They also like to use those small bars of soap that come wrapped in paper more than simple liquid soap. Who would need something that is economical, easy-to-use, and not slippery like the liquid soap one has at home? Of course you would want the pain in the ass, but refined, small circle of soap. Easy choice! Idiots. Liquid soap in some form is everywhere BUT in hotels. You would think by now they would catch on.

The people who get this room also have no concept of the Internet or the ability to purchase movies through the magic of hotel television, as both are priced ridiculously high. Explain to me why I would want to pay twelve dollars for 24 hours worth of access to the Internet? In what planet would that be acceptable? Hell, it’s about 35 dollars per MONTH for broadband. Therefore, if I stay here for three days I would have paid almost the same amount as access for a month in my home. Sure, that’s reasonable.

The selection of movies is fantastic as well, like Madea’s Family Reunion, Curious George, The Pink Panther, and Eight Below. All of the hits are here, just a click away! Oh, and an eleven dollar credit card bill away. To compare, you can go online for a dollar more and pay for 22 hours of more entertainment. Who makes these things up, a retard with a pinwheel, a pad, and paper? To see a movie in theaters by me costs about 10 dollars, and that is with stadium seating, a screen the size of my house, and a sound system that could drive hostages out of Kuwait. I’m now paying a dollar more for a 20 inch overused and overworked Philips TV in stereo that are bested by the speakers built in to my laptop. Christ, I don’t even want to know where the mini-bar is.

What I find most interesting is that the first option is Erotica films. Pervs. Here you have the option of the 24-hour erotica film fest…which is really just two movies over and over again. Why you would want that, god only knows. Don’t worry folks, as responsible parents can get rid of this by hitting 8 to block the channels. This comes after your child already reads the options:

1 SEXTOPIA
All-New Interactive
2 EROTICA FILMS
contain the HOTTEST sexual scenes!
And of course 3 24-Hour EROTICA FILM FEST
2 films on 1 channel for one low price… Vivid, Hustler or Specailty Channel

All the while a loop of a girl saying, “enjoy the passion and romance of late night entertainment anytime during the day!” plays in the background. I fail to see how romance comes in the “specialty” channel, which is probably full of golden showers and horse cocks.

To end my little e-journal, I will share with you talking to Billy, my mom’s Asian hotel host. Apparently, once you’re exclusive (see: lost so much money it’s a wonder I can go to college) you get your own host who will comp things like meals and rooms and might be able to get you tickets to shows around town. While my mom is downstairs gambling (which begs the question as to why a 20 year old is in Atlantic City when you can’t drink or gamble, just write shit for your blog like a loser) I get a call from Billy.

Billy is so Asian it would make people in Chinatown embarrassed. It would be like me walking into Kenya and saying that I am one with the people and always have been. He informs me of the gift that he signed my mom up for, and I thank him. At the end he says something to me, and I go “yeah, definitely,” to what I now think was not a statement that could be followed up with “yeah, definitely.” The conversation ended, and I immediately started saying “la la la la” to make sure I couldn’t lose the ability to say my l’s properly. The most befuddling part of this whole exchange is why you would choose a name that you physically cannot properly pronounce? How about Dave, or Todd? Why Birry? Every time he calls someone he has to start with “Hi, this is Birry!” Why do that to yourself?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

It’s 6 AM on Mother’s Day, and I cannot sleep. In fact, since waking up at 5, I have not been able to drift back to the land of gumdrops and snooziekins. No, for some reason I cannot get my mom out of my mind. Maybe it’s because she’s sleeping four feet away from me and she’s snoring like a motorcycle that keeps revving its engine but never starts…for an hour. Either that or the Mother’s Day festivities, I am not really sure (I am leaning towards the former, though).

There is some subtle irony here, that on the day where I should be thankful for all you have done, you are not allowing me to get sleep to drive us both safely home from Atlantic City. You, the one who worries most about my capabilities and faculties when I’m behind the wheel is the one who is the biggest detriment to said abilities.

Update: as I’m writing this, my mom just woke up and asked if I can’t sleep. I told her that her snoring kept me up for the last hour. She replied, sleepily and slowly, that I should have just woken her up and told her to stop. Seeing me on the laptop, she muttered, “great, I’m going to be the next blog.” Happily, I told her that she would be.

There are times where I absolutely want to strangle the woman. Much like any healthy mother/son relationship, there are times where I absolutely cannot stand her. She babies me around when I’m twenty years old (pointing out obvious safety measures, such as finding the exits in the Borgata’s main hall, as if I couldn’t figure it out myself), and it becomes really, really bothersome. I don’t think she knows why it is such a pain.

My mom has done an incredible job raising me. There have been quiet times where she has asked me if she did a good job being a mom. She has questioned such things as talking to me frankly about where babies came from when I was in second grade, or letting me have the Wu-Tang Clan’s first album in third grade, or letting me watch South Park in sixth grade, and so on. She worries that we talk about too many things that are adult, that she knows too much about my life (she reads this blog, but thankfully refuses to read Manton vs. Woman). She worries that she has failed.

There is no better way to become a responsible, wizened adult than through her teaching, parenting, and care. I am directly the way I am today because of she, and of course how my dad, have shaped me. No matter how many times I say it, she worries. I think that’s just her natural inclination. Lawyers law, writers write, mothers worry.

If you know me, there was sort of a pivotal event this past summer that really opened my eyes and changed my perceptions of many people and things. My mom warned me of the possibilities of such an event years ago. Of course, I ignored her warnings, called her overprotecting, and blazed (literally) forward. And then, of course, she was right. Luckily, she gave me the tools to analyze the situation in such a way that I could see why it would happen and what to do.

She has taught me many things over the course of my 20 years on this planet. She has taught me that your name means everything, that people will remember your actions and your ideals long after they forget who you really are. Always do the right thing, even if it means sacrifice. There is nothing more important than your character, and that you should protect it at all times.

She never placated or talked down to me when I was younger; almost always ensuring that I was some sort of an equal. She would commend me on how smart I was, but it was more of her believing that I was at a certain maturity level—both intellectually and otherwise—that made me strive to reach such a level. She urged me forward to learn and to voice my opinion. Unfortunately, that just meant that when other kids would back talk at 15, I was doing it at 12.

Most importantly, she always allowed me to speak my mind. To a certain extent, that has made me bossy around the house, never relenting (and consequently, never shutting up). While she might regret that, without such a push and backing, something like this site would never be possible.

In second grade, my mom was reading some assignments that I had written that either did not follow the proper directions or did not fully answer the question, but I received a check plus (the standard for excellence, even in college). She asked the teacher why I am getting those marks, especially when I was not doing the proper work. My teacher smiled, and then remarked that he is coming to his own conclusions, and that it should be nurtured. Mom was mortified, but my teacher new better. She saw down the line what this could mean, although I’m sure it was never me talking about That Guy. Instead, she saw a little boy who was bursting at the seams to continue openly discussing topics, much like he was able to at home. She saw a parent who was pushed to openly discuss issues and ideas, and that was surely more important than using all five spelling words in the paragraph.

My mother gave me my voice. She pushed me to use proper language (we urinate, we don’t pee; we have a penis, not a pickle) and to explore new words to express how I felt. I would ask her different words for being sad, and she would dole them out to me as if she was a thesaurus. She is directly the reason why I cling to writing to get out my feelings, emotions, and most importantly, my thoughts. She’s an avid reader, and passed on to me some kind of love for reading (only some).

My mom was also the only one who always believed in me, lapping me by about seven years by now. There was never a time where she didn’t say she loved me, that she was proud of me, how grateful she was to be my mom. Maybe I have taken it for granted, not having the experience of having a parent who doesn’t say those things. Now when she says them, they’re irksome, like a broken record.

A few days ago my parents were complementing me on my grades this past semester (the best report card I have ever, and will ever, receive). My dad was saying that he’s proud of me, and my mom cut him short, saying that he is in so many words alluding that they weren’t proud of me before hand. So my dad started on a list of things that he was proud of me for. I eventually yelled for the both of them to shut up because it was giving me a headache. I wonder how many kids would yearn for the ability to do that.
With time has come perspective. This is not an easy situation that my family is currently in. Here I am, two years of college finished, and looking forward to spending the majority of the next two years 225 miles away from them in Boston. The constant shoving match between maternal care and independence is an every day affair.

There were many times here in Atlantic City where I had to chastise my mom for treating me like a child. There was even a point where she was telling me how to lock a hotel room door for extra protection (“but you have to let me in because I can’t unlock that top lock, ya know”). I got very upset, and in a snotty voice retorted, “like I don’t know how to use a friggin’ hotel room door. Jesus Mom, I’m twenty. Stop!” She recoiled and left.

What I don’t think my mom understands is why I would say something like this. In her mind, this is me just lashing out, being hurtful, and trying to assert my own power (her favorite term when I was a teenager was, “you’re feeling your oats”). Instead, she should see it as a perversely positive aspect of her parenting. She has gotten me to the point where I am not just ready to be independent, in many respects I am, and it is thanks to her. I’m probably driving the knife home and twisting it, but she is responsible for the way I am now. When I snap back at her, it’s because she has already taught me that (I knew how to lock the hotel door when we went to Disney in ’92 or ’93) and she doesn’t need to go back and fix things.

My mom’s biggest problem is letting go. I am an only child, and even if I wasn’t, this wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for a parent to do. But in some ways it is. She has guided me through life to a point where I do not need her as much as she would like, but that is exactly what a good parent should strive for. In reality, she has achieved all that a parent could want. She just doesn’t believe in herself.

Just as she always believed in me, I always believed that she was doing the right thing for me. There are several methods of parenting, and they all have their own affects. The absentee mother with the latchkey kid will make said child into a spoiled, self-important, immature adult. The parent who never talks to their kid makes him or her more apt to do things that are either against the parent’s wishes, or simply doesn’t know any better. The parent who tells their kids to keep all emotions inside leaves him or her a ticking time bomb of angst, anger, and sadness until their body cannot take it anymore and they somehow get this energy out, mostly in uncomfortable ways.

I see other kids and I wonder why they are like this. Why was my roommate freshman year such a selfish douche? Why was that one kid in my class so eager to put everyone else down? Why can’t people understand things the way I do? Why do kids have to lie to their parents about their drinking when all they are doing is pushing that inevitable blow up farther down the line?

I realize that it is all because how great of a mom I have.

The time has come for me to try and sleep again, so that I’m well rested to drive half of the Anton family back home safely (although I could do it right now anyway, I’m just humoring her). For the record, she is still snoring in the exact same position. Oh well, can’t win’em all. I wonder if she thought that me writing my blog about her would turn into this. Well, if she wasn’t crying already (a 1 to 100 long shot), here goes:

Sometimes the drawback to artists is that they cannot let their work go. They constantly rewrite, repaint, reshape their subject until it is no longer what they really wanted, too concerned about the small details and missing the big picture. Mom, it’s time to put the brush down. It’s time to put away the red pen. It’s time to pack up the clay scraper. Sure, every now and then you can refine some edges, or change a few words, maybe even take off some excess clay. Your job is complete. Now, put it on display for the world to judge. I think you’ll get some good reviews.

Happy Mothers’ Day, Mommy

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Retro: Calming Tom

This is a special edition of the Retro series because it isn't that old (meaning it's pretty good). Last year, my friend Tom (who I affectionately call Whiskers) came to me saying that he wanted to go to sleep but he wasn't tired. I symphasized, said, "sucks," and looked at him blankly. He then told me my part of solving this conundrum. Tom was soothed by hearing the sound of people typing. He knew I was a writer and guessed that I could type pretty quickly--and for a while--so I took the task. What follows is what I typed up, verbatim, for Tom. Notice the lack of direction and errors. I figure it's something that was written for someone who needed to be bored, so I'll put it up for people who only read this because they are bored. It's a boring cycle.



Tom is a really good guy. He calls me starfish, and I actually enjoy it a lot. Mona has just left the room, because she needs to find a nother person to which she has to have probably some improper relations with. I really don’t know why Tom enjoys this so, maybe his mom would type away when he was younger and was going to sleep? I have no real idea, but I’m his friend, so I humor him and will do it anyway. The light is on, so Tebo [my frosh year roommate] can’t sleep and will bitch about it in a little bit, but I wonder if he’ll ever get up and turn it off? I don’t think he will. Sucks, cause I will have to have it on anyway to take out my contacts in a few minutes. You win some, you lose some, I guess. Anyway, I don’t really know what to talk about anymore. Maybe I should mention that I really wanna get wasted, but I can’t cause if I’m on meds [I was sick, was on antibiotics] I’ll be like a 12 year old girl at a frat party and possibly puking after all is said and done…after my 3 beers or so, if I can get that lucky. This is college, dammit, and I’m far too sober, especially after being sober for nearly the entire break. One of these days I’m sure my friends will actually step upand go and ddrive myself around like I have been doing for the last, oh I dunno, since I got my license. I mean shit, I was driving around 5 people with about 3 gs the day after I got my license at 1 AM, immediately breaking 3 laws at once (well, the weed one was a bit more severe than the past 12 and 5 people thing). Strange how I keep putting my hand near the fire and not getting burned. I think by this point I’m way past due, and karma is gonna come and bite me square in the ass, and probably take off a nice chunk of my left cheek. Hopefully Tom will read this, in fact, I’ll print this out and show him. It’ll probably be really trippy to a certain point, cause it’s him reading about me taking about how he’s gonna read it.

In fact, I just tripped myself out. Whoa. I’d stop, but he would get kinda upset, and I don’t want to let down someone who calls me starfish.

Classes are a strange thing, especially when Charlie said that no one really forces you to go to class, which is true. I assume we all go because we want to be enlightenend or becoming smarter or something. Oh, Tebo just turned off the light and closed the door. Haha, I’m gonna turn that bitch on in like 5 minutes. The light always wins in the end. Bwahaha!

Back on topic.

So what really keeps us getting up in the morning, freezing our balls off, and going to class? There’s no one here to make us go, no parental figure yelling at us from the kitchen to wake up every 5 minutes so you could haul to school; that person is either 5 to 4000 miles away. Is it the fear of failure? I’m sure a person wouldn’t like to be known as the “guy that dropped out.” There are a few of them back home, including a friend who isn’t allowed back his grades are so bad, and it isn’t like they are looked up to, well, except for stupid high school freshman who enjoy the stories of their old Football glory moments. I guess, and hope in my case at least, that’s it not about letting down mommy or daddy who write the checks and pay BU to not heat our rooms but fund some sort of NASA experiment down the road, but more about a personal desire to succeed.

Ew, this is boring shit.

So I was fuckin’ this bitch right, and she was sooooo fuckin’ bangin’ and shit, and I just sorta wrapped around cause I was hitting her from the back, and I was all over her clit and then….

Ok I shouldn’t lie, either.

So this one time this chick that was a friend of a friend was hanging out with me and, um, the friend that connected us. We exchanged numbers, screen names, and became rather friendly. This largely breasted female’s name was "Marsha", and sort of had a fancy for me. She’d talk to me all the time, and with my natural wit, charm, and of course purdy looks, I wooed her. We went to see Bad Boys 2, and we held hands or some dumb shit, and I could have easily made out with her in the car afterwards, but eh, didn’t wanna do it. So it goes. [Click "Marsha" for the full story]

It started out like any Saturday night when dealing with college students: where do we go to get liquored up and a tad silly? For Alex, Zack, Zack, Charlie and myself, we knew that answer thanks to a friend from home of Charlie’s, Loren, who attends Berklee and has an apartment across from the Best Buy/AMC Fenway 13 commercial complex.

There were quite a few obstacles in the face of us on that night, with a lack of alcohol from the usual spot and a Noreaster being some of our worries. It was supposed to snow up to 2 feet, but when you looked on the faces of the boys that night, you wouldn’t see fear, no, but resolution; determined to get hammered at Loren’s apartment.

The trip up was made with minimal effort, with a T ride to BU central and a trek through some dustings of snow, setting the foundations for later snow to pile and be troublesome. All was fine until the clan came to a seemingly endless field of snow, with the expanse of white between them and their destination…and their alcohol. Waiting no time, they charged over the terrain as if they were suddenly taken over by the spirt of the movie Braveheart, or its American counterpart, the Patriot. Nothing could stand in between them and destiny.

Drinks were had and shared, laughs were long and loud, stories were warm and jolly, until Loren went into the bathroom for about an hour. The concerned gaggle of guys decided at 12:30 it was time to depart, for they might have overstayed their welcome as their host spewed. After getting their coats, hats, and gloves, they seemed ready and eager to take on whatever was out there. The truth was, they were not prepared at all for what lay before them.

As soon as they went outside the apartment building and realized they could no longer see the steps which carried them up to the building in the first place, this was an entirely different ballgame. This is what made boys into men, and made mere mortals into legends. The boys looked at each other, and without uttering a word, knew that the choice was clear and had to be made, so they ran back through the vast white field which they already conquered, but that was 4 hours and a foot of snow earlier. This was an entirely different beast which they would have to make surrender to their every whim.

With the task at hand, they banded together in mind and spirit to overcome their personal hardships within themselves and in the tundra that lay beneath their tennis-shoed feet. Yes, even while not properly equipped for the mission at hand, and overcoming innumerable odds, the group had made a mockery of mother nature, a move that would soon throw lives into danger.

As they walked onto a T in the road, a caravan was in the middle of the road having a tough time trying to go about traversing the road. A taxi driver had parked and tried to help, but his strength alone was not enough. Eagerly, the men decided to help the van, and did so, but the poor driving of the man in control led the van to folly. They showed no pity, nor remorse, and decided their job was done. On their way back to the Claflin dorm complex, they saw the taxi, with the driver who helped the van, start to fishtail. Charlie yelled out, “leave no man behind!” and with that, the job was not finished. Not by a long shot.
All of them decided to hop on and help out. From the left side, all pushed, but to their dismay the car’s back end skewed right. After running around and pushing from the right, it only turned the opposite way again. Resolute and determined, they hopped onto the left side and pushed yet again, refusing to let the snow win. The taxi began to right itself and continued on down the road. Across the street a group of people cheered, and everyone, including the group across from the men, ran down St. Mary’s, victory seemingly in their grasp, ranting and raving and throwing their fists up triumphantly. As we have learned, mother nature will not take a loss so easily.

She blew a mighty gust of wind up the hilly street, so strong that it prevented even a hawk from seeing more than a foot in front of himself. The group decided to hide within the walls of a building’s alcove. They shared the same destination of BU West, and the decision was made to simply not go the trek alone, but together, as a team. When the wind started to calm, the newly formed group made a run for it, and reached Commonwealth Avenue. There was no victory this time, for a long haul was still up ahead.

Curbs were hit, snow was blown in faces, footing was lost and bottoms were dampened. Through it all, the group remained strong, always focused on the goal, the destination, one step at a time. When all was said and done, when all the steps were left in the snow, only to be erased come dawn, and everyone was back in their respective dorm rooms, things seemingly had not changed. There will be no parties, no plaques, no statues for these men. Nay, their legend will only be told by the few that were there to see it, experience it, and understand the severity of their actions. And that is the way it should be.



Tom loved it, by the way. Something original soon.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Welcome to BU!

This article will be, in some part, in the BU-run student paper, The Source. Maybe.

Welcome to Boston University boys and girls. I'm sure you have all come from varying backgrounds, different suburbs, and ranging from all socioeconomic levels, such as the middle class to upper class. BU is rich with people from various races and ethnicities, such as Caucasians, Irish, Italians, and whites!

As you may have noticed, BU is an urban campus, centered in the lively city of Boston. By "lively" I mean an urban playground that closes at 2 AM. Only in Boston can you walk down a major street--Commonwealth Avenue--at 11 PM on a Friday and be the only person around. Parents, if you’re worried about crime, do not fret. There simply isn’t anyone out to commit any crime. I think there is a city mandated bedtime.

What distinguishes Boston from other major locales across the globe is its subway system, the T. It is a curious combination of the normal, underground subway system and an above ground trolley network. They work together to be as reliable as a compulsive liar. I warn you now: never depend on the T. There will come a time where you desperately need to get to class or across town and you will wait for twenty minutes only to have a double-car that is packed like Landsdowne after a Sox game go screaming by you. Oh, and it stops running at 1 AM. Get your walking shoes, folks.

Boston is also unique for its weather. There are two seasons here: Hot and Cold. These seasons have no boundaries dependent on the month. We know that summer will start in June and end in August. In Boston, hot and cold could fluctuate with no regard for the date! For example, this past year in January it hit 60 degrees on a Monday before snowing on Tuesday. You can't make this stuff up. This was written on a day where it was 83 degrees at noon and 55 degrees by dusk. My favorite is the fluctuation as you walk to class, when you're burning up in the sun and freezing in the shade. Don't worry; you get accustomed to the wackiness.

This fluctuation in temperature means that you should always be ready to dress comfortably on a day-by-day basis. I made the mistake of packing nothing but shorts when I moved in Freshman year, expecting to pick up pants when I went home in mid-October. It was 50 degrees by the second week. You will be living in a meteorological grab bag, so pack accordingly. Make weather.com your homepage and never trust the “hand out the window” check. Ever. I’ve lost many friends to extraordinary sweating when using that system.

As I mentioned before, Boston is a city that demands walking. I am sure this is by design as the streets are simply paved cow paths, an era that featured the horse-drawn buggy as the only sensible way to get around. Add the nation's worst drivers to this maze of pavement and you have a recipe for sure death if you try and drive to and from class. I have driven in Boston a few times and I thank God every time I make it out alive (Boston drivers were never told about the advantages of turn signals).

Cars are still a problem for pedestrians, as BU is peppered with very strange crosswalks. One particular problem is by the BU Bridge. Regardless of what the lights say, it is almost always a game of chance when you decide to cross the street. It is very easy to pick out who the freshman are early in the year because you guys simply do not know how to time your walk. Here's a hint: don't panic and stop in the middle of a 3-lane road when you're walking against the green light. It's not beneficial for anyone involved. With time and experience you too can laugh at those silly fools who all wear their orientation shirts like a uniform.

One trait that almost all BU students seem to have is not paying any mind to traffic and walking across the street, regardless of whether or not a car is barreling through. The common response I get when I ask about this dangerous behavior is, "well, cars are supposed to yield at crosswalks." Here is some simple math: the normal person is between 100 and 200 pounds while the average car is weighed in tonnage. I'm sure you won't care that the car that hit you is getting a hefty fine for not obeying the laws of the road while your collarbone resembles the end of a game of Jenga.

BU takes precautions to curb this "unsafe" behavior by enforcing a stringent policy with on campus housing. They keep things so incredibly safe that sometimes it is hard to actually get into the building where you live. The Terrier card is not just a way to use more of your parents’ money on items such as iPods, food, and cigarettes. It is also the only way you can get into your building to sleep at night. Without your ID card, you cannot swipe in to the building, and are immediately thought of as an intruder by security. Even in May when you have seen that same guard the whole year, he will probably not let you in. Who needs ease when you have safety?

A lot of people decide that it is a good idea to punch a hole in your Terrier card and attach your key through a key ring. The rationale here is you can’t lose your Terrier card if it is always attached to your key ring. While seemingly logical, there is a giant flaw in this thinking. You will lose your key and your ID card a lot. It just happens. The problem with the attachment system is that if you misplace one item, you lose the other as well. This poses a problem since you now not only cannot get inside the building, but you cannot even open get into your room.

Luckily for us Forgetful Franks and Frans, you can go to the RA office and sheepishly ask for the spare key to your room. Do not lose the spare key, because BU will change your locks and charge you $130 for it. They also have a tendency to not warn you, and if your roommate causes your lock to change without informing you, it tends to be a bit…jarring. Communication is a good thing people.

Your Terrier card is also your way in to the dining halls. Remember how great the food was when you ate there recently? Relish it, because it will never be that good again. Do not underestimate the power of your visiting parents (or as they are commonly referred to, “The Bill Payers”). The best I could say about the dining halls is that it is dorm food, and dorm food is the same everywhere. If there is a universal link between every college in the nation, it has to be the quality of dining. To pass the time, see how many days it takes until your burrito literally falls apart in front of your very eyes before you even lay a hand on it. If you live in West Campus or Warren, you have the best of the dining hall experience. Just do not expect to eat between 6 and 7 PM, for it is impossible.

The George Sherman Union is another on-campus hotspot when it comes to dining. You can spend all of your dining points on wonderfully prepared salads, turkey dinners with all of the fixings, or get a sandwich from Aesop's Bagels (but they don't have bacon, egg, and cheese, which is like going to a diner that doesn't serve fries). The GSU also has a Starbucks that takes dining points. If you only sort of enjoy coffee, enjoy your new addiction. If you love coffee, they are figuring out a way where you can swipe your card and have an IV on hand to pump the mochachino-latte-frappa-caffienated goodness straight into your veins.

There are a lot of positive things at BU, almost none of which I have listed here. This column is simply a counter-balance to all of the great points that are highlighted (over and over again) during your orientation stay. I love this place and look forward to another two years in the Boston University system (even with all of the Red Sox fans). Welcome to the place where dreams come true, Facebook is nearly a registered cult, and liberals run amok. Enjoy your stay.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Going Through the Motions

The worst part is the helplessness. It doesn’t matter what you say or how you try and cope, the bottom line is that you are powerless. I have absolutely no decision in the matter, and that is the worst part. All I can do is sit and wait and hope while simultaneously trying to move on. You don’t move on because you want to, but it is done out of necessity. I know that I cannot live like this; not a plea for suicide by any means, just that there are better and happier times ahead of me. I would like for those times to have started yesterday.

Unfortunately, moving on cleanly and quickly is almost impossible, at least in my case. For every positive few steps forward there is a crippling step backward. At first, it’s the obvious problems of “we used to hang out around this time” or “9:00 means we talk on the phone, but….” Those setbacks aren’t personal as much as getting past the routine. It is here that you realize how much that person was a part of your life in ways you never thought about. It is here that you realize what you have ahead of you.

Time does not wait for you to try and make sense out of it. Tests come, problems with friends arise, all of these things seem to add up and compound to an incredible force of suck that is barreling down behind you like you’re Indiana Jones. It doesn’t matter if the problem is that you’re out of clean socks, it will hit you like a ton of bricks. “She doesn’t love me anymore and my feet are totally going to smell if I take off my shoes in a public situation.”

The best way to get over someone is to get with someone else, as it will make you forget about the first girl. This was the advice I received, and I did my best to forget. You convince yourself that this is great, fantastic, flesh-on-flesh awesomeness. The other person was ok, I mean, you could talk and stuff, but this girl/guy is hot! And you’re exploring each other’s naughty bits, and that’s also awesome! Man, this is so much better!

What hits you next is the emptiness, the shallowness of the whole ordeal. Even when engaging in the most intimate of acts with someone else, you cannot artificially create the same personal connection you had with the other. There is a point where you realize it, when you’re lying next to someone, maybe with legs or other limbs intertwined, and you have never felt more alone. You could be surrounded by thousands of people but there is nothing but you and your thoughts and your complete lack of other, the lack of the other part of you, the lack of the rest of you.

Time does heal wounds, albeit it at the pace of a baby in a marathon. After a month or so things start to improve. The problems no longer compound, but are merely their own little demons to your piece of mind. The thoughts still linger, and will probably always linger, when you hear that song that reminds you of them, or that one shirt they got you, or the shoes that they liked you in. Save from a full-frontal lobotomy, these thoughts are impossible to shake. You learn to grow, you learn to ignore it and move on with your life.

Just when you think things are going great for yourself and your personal search-and-rescue mission, you run into the other person. Thanks to technology, that can be as easy as looking your buddy list, or facebook, or myspace, etc. You come face to face (figuratively, of course) with the person who turned you away, refused your love, and decided that anything else is better. Needless to say, it could be a tad painful.

You check their profile and their away a hundred times in an hour for any little update. Nothing ever changes, but you refuse to miss it if it does. You’re both done playing your cryptic games of “does he/she want me back?” through bits of lyrics or other quotes, just resigned to read “in a good mood” as “I don’t need you, I never did, and I’m moving on without you just fine.” While sense says that the other person is going through the same retching feelings of despair that you go through each time you hear That Band or see That Movie or hear That Phrase, this is all about emotions. Your sense has no power here.

Humans have a distinct urge to find out the truth no matter if it hurts them or not. When you’re on the phone with your former beau and they ask you what you’ve been doing with your new, replacement friend you have to know the answer. It’s emotional suicide, and we all have to pull that trigger. When the other person has updated his or her picture site as you fully know that he or she has a picture up with the new person, you click it knowing you’re going to be hurt. But you have to look. You have to. Your own feelings be damned.

Of course, you scroll right down to see their new replacement friend. Upon seeing the picture you enter into a smorgasbord of emotions: anger, resentment, sadness, betrayal, and then anger. You immediately measure yourself against this other person happily knowing that you cannot lose (the judge is totally in your pocket). You think maybe it would be easier if they were really attractive, or have some features that are much better than yours. At least then this move of the other person would make some sense. (Didn’t you forget? Sense is worthless!)

The next phase is incredible, furious anger. You are now out for blood. It doesn’t matter what great times you had in the past, because all you can remember is the pain that they caused you. “After all I did for him/her, this is how they pay me back?!” Soon, the goal is not to get back with the other person, but instead to make them feel just like you feel. Age, maturity level, none of this matters; it is guttural, animalistic, vindictive and completely human.

The real question is what’s the point? The whole situation is incredibly stupid and can be easily avoided. But we never avoid it. This is our opportunity to not just watch the car crash, but to sit in the driver’s seat and understand the pain. We become ingrained with misery just as we would become ingrained with the windshield. We steer into the divider and hope for the best, because somewhere deep down inside, it’s the only way we know how.

The way we deal with pain is more pain, be it to others or ourselves. We give back exactly what we get. When things were better, there could not have been enough love to bestow upon the other. If you put each tender moment on top of the each other, the stack would scrape the sky. Then that stack falls. Pick up the love notes and throw them at each other until something makes sense.

But then again, nothing makes sense. None of this does. If it did, would it really even be fun? Worth it? There is no time for reason when it comes to emotions, because with sense, emotions go out the window. There is no good reason why you would put all of your faith in to one person who is four hours away. Reason says that you are surrounded by girls and that you are wasting your time sticking with just one person in this giant world full of possibilities.

Of course, for a time, reason is wrong. Unfortunately, that time is fleeting.