Various

It’s been a while. You’ve probably noticed these posts getting spaced farther and farther out. One part of that is that I keep getting busy around here. Another part is that I was using blogging time earlier this month to do NaNoWriMo – a goal that I’ve had to abandon because of so much work, so much other stuff, and so much other stuff that refuses to stop happening. Let’s start this out with Halloween.

Harris parties are a strange tradition, one that I’ve never been able to fully get into. The concept is that someone comes up with a theme for the party, they go around collecting money to buy beer, and then they throw a party in the Harris Center here on campus. The problem that I’ve never been able to overcome is that, despite how much effort people put into their costumes for these themes – Halloween, ’80s, Fetish, etc. – once they get into the hall, it doesn’t really matter. That’s because inside the hall it’s dark and everyone’s drunk and dancing aggressively and suggestively to Lady Gaga music that’s blasting at an unreasonable volume. So there’s a contrast to what I’d see as an ideal sort of conversation to be able to have at a costume party, which is something like this:

A: Heyyy, B! That’s a great costume… Civil War soldier, right?

B: Yeah, it was a blast to put together. You’ve got an Ottoman Empire thing going on, right?

A: Yeah, I borrowed the fez from my friend—he’s an exchange student from Turkey.

B: Sweet. I’m going to go check out other costumes. See ya.

A: Cool, later!

Instead, the lights are too low, and you can’t make out what people are wearing, and you can’t hear what they’re saying, and many of the people there can’t string together a coherent sentence anyhow. So it’s more like this:

A: NICE BEARD COSTUME!!!!! {A’s fez falls off as he makes an overambitious dance move.}

B: {Pukes on A’s fez.}

The only solution I’ve been able to find is to sit in the antehall, which is lit and only gets the echoes of the thumping bass from the party hall. I can stand there and watch people go past and have somewhat intelligible conversations with them before they speed off into the enveloping gloom. So, when I go to a Harris party, that’s what I do, although I usually don’t, because they don’t all have costume themes. In any case, here are some pictures of me in my Dalí costume.

I worked on perfecting my “Dalí Look” – which consists of eyebrows raised as if you’ve just heard a gunshot, but a mouth that’s sort of a cute rabbit impression. I got it better in this picture than in the next one.

Taken by Elissa. She was going as Little Red Riding Hood, but she didn’t have a riding hood, so she was going to wear red shorts and something else skimpy. That was about par.

One more, in case you just didn’t get the point with the other two, I guess.

There were some other good costumes. A group of friends, one of whom lives in EcoHouse, went as the Seven Deadly Sins. A girl I kinda know went as Jared Fogle before he started eating at Subway. There was a guy dressed as a box of Franzia wine, a guy as Rorschach, and someone in a full-on Gumby suit.

After Halloween, I started writing my NaNo novel, and before life intervened, I had written some 26 pages (longhand in a notebook), which made it, quite possibly, the longest continuous thing I’ve ever written. Its only competitor is an earlier (and terrible) draft of the same story that I wrote in tenth grade, which may have topped thirty pages, but I don’t remember. I still intend to finish it, but we’ll have to see when I’ve got some time. Most people don’t write that nowel that they’ve always wanted to write because they never feel like they have the time to write it, and until this month I had fallen into the same trap. But now I know that the time is there, as long as you don’t have this college’s workload to contend with, and family difficulties on top of that. So, this winter I should be able to write the rest of the book, and hopefully at the end I won’t feel like it needs to be thrown into a dark corner and forgotten for several years.

Also: my roommate has moved out of EcoHouse. This wasn’t a huge surprise, because she had gotten to the point that she usually only stopped by for five minutes each day to feed her rabbit. She didn’t come to the weekly house meetings, and she never talked with anyone from the house. As she was taking some of her stuff out of the room, I asked her what drove her to move out. She said she’d expected it to be different, more like an environmental-type thing she’d done over the summer called Big Grееn Summеr. She’d done this with Nathan, who lives down the hall from us, and he said that she contributed about as much to that project as she did to the house. (I feel slightly nervous writing this, because I once gave her the address to this blog, but I really doubt that she reads it anymore, so I’m not very nervous.) Anyhow, now I have a single room that’s the size of a double. I’ll be getting a new roommate next semester, or perhaps moving into a single-sized single next door, but until the semester ends I have tons of space all to myself.

Other than that, and being terribly busy, and trying to start a romance but apparently failing (at least so far), and seeing a pretty cool concert by a band called Why?, not a whole lot happened in the last few weeks. Well, for me, at least. Back at home things have been happening as if someone told them they won’t be allowed to happen ever again.

I don’t know what I can say about our family issues from this far away. I guess the most helpful thing for me to say is that I do sincerely believe things are going to work out for the better once this is over. Micah is in a place where they can straighten him out and give him a chance at having a life course where he won’t end up in dead-end jobs that continue forever. It’s painful that it took such a drastic measure before he could get to this place, but I honestly think it’ll improve his life a lot. Something big needed to happen, and it did. And I hope things clear up legally so that you three aren’t all split into different places eventually.

I’ve met with my advisor, and we figured out my schedule for graduating early, which will involve a big workload, but not so insanely much bigger than the big workloads I’ve been dealing with since I got here. I also discovered, when we discussed seminars, one that I hadn’t seen before, called Sustainable Development in Costa Rica. This is great not just because Costa Rica is one of the places I’ve been thinking of WWOOFing after I graduate (see previous post). It’s also great because the class takes a field trip over spring break (which is two weeks long), to Costa Rica, expenses paid for by the college. I think that qualifies as getting my money’s worth for this education. It goes without saying that I really hope I get in. As near as I can tell, there are 19 people applying for the 15 available slots, and my good Spanish puts me a shoo-in. I’m also going to apply for the Chicago book company internship within, oh, let’s say the next two weeks. I just have to pull together a résumé, which will be considerably more impressive now than it was the last time I updated it. I can add that I’m a published font designer and I’ve had (a quarter of) a magazine article written about me; I can also say that I’ve successfully been the driving force in the design of something like eight publications since I started being at the top of Press. And of course I have mad proofreading skills, in at least two languages (three if you count Esperanto, which you probably shouldn’t). I think I have a chance at getting the internship. I really hope I do.

This has been a disorganized entry, but I think all the information I meant to convey is around here somewhere. I’m going to call it done, and if you’d like it to be in a more logical order, you can go ahead and print it out and paste the pieces around and enjoy. Hopefully I’ll be able to write again soon, with something happier than a lot of this one has been. Until then, I’m out.

File under: Halloween, photos


Anonymous

History

I hope you don't seriously have to graduate a semester early. Seems it ought to be able to be worked out another way. You deserve your four full years, with many, many years afterwards to think about making your living. Hoping for the best. Your parents are working things out, and I'm going down today to help your mom clean up the house a bit. Life is moving forward for them, too. Grandma

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Anonymous

History

Sounds like you have things and options under control. Your idea of an internship is excellent. You might think about looking into grad schools. Grad assistantships pay tuition, fees and a stipend. You may end up teaching freshman english - not a bad job actually. It's nice to have someone pay you to go to school, Hang in there. Grandpa

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Anonymous

History

Costa Rica is one of the most promising of the Central American countries. They don't abide homelessness there, providing minimal structures, at least, for all citizens. They are trying very hard to encourage small business development, many for women who are trying to build financial skills. You would be amazed at the diversity of the climate and wildlife. I sure hope you can go.

And we also hope you're on track for the internship for next summer.

Aunt E.

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Anonymous

History

Nathanael, I will talk to you more about this when you come home, but please don't try to complete everything a semester early. I will discuss the whys with you in person.

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Chuck

History

But, er, I want to. Because I like college, but I also think it'd be super awesome to gain an extra semester, free of college work and college tuition, and be able to go to Costa Rica and work on an organic farm. It's not putting me off—I'm actually glad that we started talking about money, because it caused me to look up this early-graduation thing, which I now think is a good idea for me reagardless of whether we're millionaires or living in cardboard boxes.
—Cardboard? Boy, that's purty fancy! When I was a boy all I had was paper bags! I had to paper them up on a frame of sticks that I lashed together with twine!
—You had paper bags? I would have given my life's savings for a paper bag! All I had was origami paper. Every time a wind come by, I had to move three or four mailboxes down the street!
—Huh! You boys obviously never had to live in a house made of bubbles!

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Anonymous

History

Har de har har har. When I was a young'n we live in a house made of corn husks when we could find them and a Iowa tornado had not carried them away. When there were no corn husks we had to use "vacuum" bubbles which were extremely light but were ecologically friendly. G.Pa

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Oxtrox

History

I wouldn't have been able to handle the Lady Gaga. To sum up her "music", on it's best day, it's absolute CRAP! And she is not at all attractive. I thought you egg head Grinellians were smarter than that.

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Chuck

History

Grinnell has a peculiar relationship with smartness, which I've been thinking about lately. Basically, Grinnellians are good and eggheaded on most of the weekdays, or whenever they have to be. But on the weekends, almost the entire campus voluntarily regresses back to about nine years old. To do this they drink enormous amounts of terrible booze, which is nothing new, except that there's such a distinct split between drunk and sober. When there's time, Grinnellians basically flip a switch and skip straight past buzzed, tipsy, and equilibrium-impaired, into stone hard drunk. In this state—and here's the regressive part—they listen to terrible music, stuff that I thought even the mainstream was close to hating. Lady Gaga isn't the extent of it. People here listen to Miley Cyrus ("Party in the USA" is near the top of the Grinnell charts, apparently) and her fellow chart-topping crap music; rap without brains; and, I'm sure, other stuff that I've missed. And while drunk they also watch Disney movies and smash stuff and just generally act like children. It makes me wonder whether a lot of Grinnellians had such hard-driven childhoods that they use all their free time trying to recoup the time they lost then. Or maybe they just get sick of being so smart all the damn time. Or maybe it's a mob mentality thing, and everyone gets way drunker than they normally would because everyone else is getting so drunk. I get confused by this aspect of Grinnell, but I've been able to deal with it by just avoiding the loud, smelly, vomiting crowds that appear every weekend. It's kind of weird, but I guess I'm okay with it.

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Chuck

History

Copy-pasted from Facebook in case you don't see that first:

It's with a seminar on sustainability in Costa Rica, and it features a trip to Costa Rica over spring break. I'm actually as excited for the seminar as I am for the trip, because I think they'll both be a blast. But "goin' to Costa Rica!" seemed like it'd have more impact than "takin' a seminar on Costa Rica!" Mom asked in Spanish if I'll be working on a farm there. In all probability, yes, but not with the seminar - that'll be next spring, I believe, in my spare semester that I'll get from graduating early.

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Anonymous

History

I say go a semester early. The college experience that most wax poetic about died and went to hell in about 1968. The alcohol vomit crowd is on every campus. My roomate freshman year made a habit of getting up in a drunken stupor, and peeing in the corner.

In other words, you'll have much more fun in Costa Rica, or anywhere else for that matter. Once you are close enough to taste graduation, the "college experience" has long since "jumped the shark".

I second the grad school thing. You'll find that at the larger Universities, the ones with lots of grad programs, have a much more segregated campus life. The grad students manage to find lots of space and are successful at keeping the "look mom! I'm in college now! Barf…" crowd away from them.

Dave

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