July 28th, 2002

tell tale heart

A Cruise Down Memory Boulevard

slyviolet pointed out that my LJ client posted my Rights of Passage post a second time rather than this one. Thanks, doll. Hopefully this will go through correctly. Posting via the web and then resynching still has a few kinks to work out in YaxJournal. Let's see if this works.

It seems that Dubya has sort of fulfulled his campaign promise -- he's restored indignancy to the White House.

A reverse narcisist is still a narcisist.

The great thing about pirates is that you can make derrogatory jokes, ethnic humor equivalents, and dress stereotypically without offending a single person. Anyone would be shunned at best if they threw a party and told everyone to come in blackface and say "Yes, massah" a lot. But a pirate party? Arrrrrr.


In an extensive project, I'm cleaning out the closet in my room, which has been a dark pile of ancience for some time. In roughly chronological order of discovery, this is what I've found:

  • The printer for an Apple II (the rest of the system is currently in my brother's closet because I expressed interest in keeping it as he was cleaning his own room), two 2400 modems, the shipping box for a ZIP drive, and a box with a bunch of computer documentation. More compactly rearranged on the top shelf to make room for a file box of 3 years of college notebooks and folders.
  • Coats and other objects I'd tossed there upon arriving home from school in May. Nothing interesting here.
  • A basket of clothes I didn't want to try to shove in my dresser at school. They've been sitting in the basket for a few years.
  • Myriad mouse shit. I discovered that there was a mouse in our house a few summers ago, but we weren't able to catch it. It managed to outlast our cat, and was still alive about a year and a half ago. Apperantly, it used a pile of my clothes as a water closet.
  • Clothes under mouse shit. Disposed of in the trash. No great losses.
  • Boxes of booster wrappers I'd saved, partly for proof-of-purchase, partly because I've inherited compulsive packratism. Not L5R boosters, of course. Those, being actually useful, were cut and sent in.
  • Bags of clothes that don't fit me any more. Some of them smell pretty bad, others are in pretty bad shape. We now have a whole bag of rags (socks and undies!) and a couple bags of middle-school-age shirts to donate to charity. I found a couple pairs of pants and shirts that still fit that I added to my pack hoard. Not that I didn't already have enough T-shirts. I'm about at the point where I only need to wash shirts once a semester, which means I have at least 60 T-shirts I wear "regularly." Given the stashes I found in my closet, my room probably has over 100 T-shirts in it right now. All mine. Damn.
  • Three mayan hammocks which developed holes too big to warrant painstaking repairs and were replaced. Due to my family's (mostly my mom's) tendency to keep things around if they could be fixed, we kept these around. My current hammock has much thicker strings and hasn't developed any holes. Well, other than the couple hundred that are supposed to be there.
  • Several pieces of POS plastic clothes hangers that had fallen. Pieces and POS hangers disposed of.
  • My closet floor! Unseen in perhaps 10 years! Now cleaned with Pine Sol and water.
  • The ability for the chifferobe door to open. Inside I found my high school graduation gown, a wool sport coat, a couple nice shirts, several albums of baseball and football cards, some quite bent (currently being flattened by an Algorithms book) empty card protector pages, and some loose cards. I wonder if late-80s/early-90s Topps cards are worth anything yet. Or which is worth more, my three 5-row boxes of CCG cards or my scattered boxes of sports cards. (I've got, perhaps, twice as many sports cards. And a significant portion of my CCG cards aren't worth anything (e.g. On the Edge).)
  • Next up is my "cubby," 15 cubic feet of random objects I thought it good to keep in a safe place. It contained:

    • Love letters from slyviolet, all folded in that special way. I read them and cried and smiled and sighed. They're all very sweet, innocent, romantic. Lots of running metaphor started by my initial secret admirer note. Looking back five years, during which I've learned a lot more about relationships, puts an interesting spin on reading these. I'm so glad we're still close friends.
    • Postcards (unsent), a bus map of central London, and a few Underground tickets from my family's Brittain and Ireland trip of 1997.
    • Suggestion books, addresses of people I vaguely if at all remember, and bags of gifts from two years at National Leadership Camp, Cheeley, Estes Park. Not a whole lot sticks in my mind from those two one-week experiences. I didn't get to know anyone really well, and I only remember a few specific things. I think I picked up some stuff intuitively/procedurally, but didn't use them too effectively as Vice President of Centennial Middle School's Student Council, partly because my one-on-one social skills sucked. One neat part of the camp, on the last evening, all the campers got a bag of papers and objects, one from each of the counsellors. The counsellors then explained what each meant. There were lots of pithy quotes and shallow poetry about doing great and grand things as a leader, but there were a couple really cool gifts. The most memorable was a counsellor who gave everyone a jalapeño pepper and then, on stage, said "Most people wouldn't bite into a jalapeño pepper" and some other things about going against the grain, even if it may be intense. He then ate the pepper and encouraged all the (13/14-year-old) campers to do so as well. You can imagine the line at the water fountain afterwords. I didn't bite, so my bags have dried jalapeños now. Neat. Other neat gifts were a jigsaw puzzle piece as a necklace (we're all part of the puzzle) and a list of some guy's life goals. Stuff like visit every country, climb a bunch of the highest mountains, explore major rivers, read the works of several classical authors. Grand stuff. I ought to make a similar list this summer. Except more perverse. Visit the world's great deserts, culture jam in all fifty states, publish at least one book in four Dewey Decimal centennial ranges. Other memories from NLC include learning the immensity of aspen trees; replacing "God" with "work" in the portion of grace we said at meals, "... thanks be to God which brings us bread;" learning the secret of the Polar Bears; whacking my head on the absurdly low upper bunk; the Wisconsin pride held by many; playing inclusive games in the road between meetings; and that Earl Reum was a badass, but I can't recall why. If it is to be, it is up to me. Which has often meant that it is to half be.
    • Yearbooks and other memorabilia from the Summer Enrichment Programme, a summer camp for gifted and talented kids in lovely Greeley, CO. I attended for three years, and while I was in some cool two-week classes, what I remember most, and what was most important in my development, was the social stuff. Not that I was very good at it or anything. I was still the quirky geeky weirdo I am today -- I didn't have any weird hats yet, but I inserted feathers, leaves, and sporks into my hat; didn't like music popular at the time (grunge and all that); and was introverted and socially affraid, even among other smart kids. I did make some good friends, though, and had a lot of good social contact, even if as an observer for much of it, due to the fact that we were in the dorms. It's quite possible that I got hooked on residence hall living before even starting high school. What a dork :-) Anyway, I decided to do a couple web searches for folks I remembered and discovered (on July 16th or so) that there was a reunion to celebrate the camp's 25th year on July 20th. A couple emails and a few days later, I drove to and from Greeley (about 100 miles, which easily three times as far as I've driven alone put together). Only a couple people I was friends with were there, but I ran in to other folks I had a connection with, people I remembered but didn't really hang with (and didn't have a good chance to hang with this time, since they were all hanging with their friends), and people from other eras. Jason, the coolest counsellor ever, announced that he was going to become a professional poker player. Other peoples' stories weren't as worth repeating. I was definitely glad I went, but it certainly could have been better. It did bring something of a sense of closure to my timid middle school years. I still need to track some folks down who didn't come to the reunion.
    • My 8th grade year book and a bunch of certificates I got at the 8th Grade Awards Ceremony. That was a night to remember. I'd broken my arm a few days before, so I was there in a sling with my parents, as well as quite a few other students and their families. I figured I'd get an award or two because I was the VP of student council. The first two awards (from Optimist Clubs, American Legion, and the like) went to other folks and I recall thinking "That kind of describes me. I should have gotten an award like that." Then a couple music awards. Then the deluge began. I walked out of the auditorium with a foreign language award (my Spanish teacher also presented me with a poem I'd written and printed on yellow paper sobre cosas amarillas to which I'd affixed a banana peel, which was now quite black), a spech award, a drama award, a Geography Bee award (I took 6th in state in 7th grade and 8th in state in 8th grade), a Quiz Bowl award, two Honor Roll awards, a Growth and Improvement award, and a leadership award (the one I'd expected). So, all in all, of the 16 sections on the programme, I got up for half of them. A teacher told me afterwards that Wade Boggs had worn a path from the dugout in Fenway to his spot at 3rd base, and that I had done the same to the auditorium carpet. As my adoring readers may surmise, I made quite an impression on the teachers of Centennial Middle School (as I do almost everywhere). I was voted the guy Most Active In School, I was the only guy who ran for student council executive council (which is probably why I won, though I gave a pretty dynamic speech), I was in two plays, was in special ed and on the honor roll, and went to computer club most Fridays. I ran into Dane a couple nights ago (he just got back from his year in Chile) and we talked briefly about middle school -- he said that Choice was an excuse for the rest of the students in Platt to pick on them, and that he spent most of high school being a dick recovering from two years of middle school. I didn't have such an experience. Despite being a socially challenged nerd who ate lunch with a bunch of nerdy girls, I don't remember getting picked on very much. I suspect that people could sense that I was cool in my own unique way, deserving of respect for having the guts to be neat in front of people, even though I was too scared to talk one-on-one. Or maybe they just didn't want to pick on, not the teacher's pet, but the teacher's favorite visitor to the bird feeder. My yearbook had a bunch of comments like "See you next year at BHS!" How wrong they were ;-) I would have done very well at Boulder High. Top grades, involved in lots of clubs, hanging with lots of smart kids. But I probably would have raged against the scanatron machine, performed my existential duty to complain about the rigidity of the education system of Das Man. I probably still would've ended up at CU, though maybe with more merit scholarships (how was I supposed to know that they wanted people to be in Pretentious Club, rather than doing something truly responsible and intensive like run the lab or teach a class?). I would've been one of those kids who stirs up trouble but is incapable of being sent to the principal's office. I don't know that I would have developed social skills better than I did at New Vista, and certainly wouldn't have learned as much about critical thinking. Probably would've learned more facts, though. And I do love knowing random facts.
    • A couple small manilla envelopes of envelopes with kind of interesting stamps. After consulting with my mother the pack rat who told me to ask my brother if he wanted them (I correctly guessed he didn't), I recycled them. Way too much useless clutter like that in our house, which detracts from the cool and interesting clutter.
    • Several stickers for causes like the World Wildlife Fund and the Denver Broncos.
    • Pictures from sports teams (Little League and YMCA basketball) that I was on as well as some school pictures. I have a picture I'll scan soon that the New Vista alums who read my journal will dig. The elementary school stuff didn't produce as many memories as the middle school stuff. Maybe because I recall it more often or because it seemed more natural.
    • A bunch of rubber worms. I had no idea what they were for when I put them in the cubby, and I still am at a loss.
    • Two bicentennil quarters, a few silver dollars, a few old pennies that don't have the Lincoln Memorial on the back, some random foreign currency (Canuk nickle, 20 old Mexican pesos), and a few video game tokens for stores that are long out of business.
    • Not much dust, since the cubby is closed most of the time.

  • My favorite shirt as a little kid. It's a red T-shirt, but it has grey long sleeves that came out, too. The front said "Buster's Garage" and has a picture of a car or something, but I'd have loved it without a logo. I just thought it was awesome that they made a shirt look like two shirts. Early indication of my preference for perverted normalcy. I washed it with my regular laundry yesterday. I find it challenging to consider myself being so small as to fit that thing.
  • A bunch of size 16 (years old) tighty whities, placed immediately into a rag bag. Two drawers of shirts that are just a little too small for me. I did save a couple XL shirts with cool designs. Most went into the growing donations bag, though I'm not sure what I want to do with shirts from SEP, Little League, etc. I mean, how lame is it to wear a shirt for a camp you didn't go to? Not even as cool as wearing a Hard Rock Tripoli shirt when you've never been east of Pittsburgh.
  • A bunch of sweatshirts and nice shirts hanging in the closet which were k-dusty, so I took them outside. They got rained on a bit today, so hopefully they're better. They all go in the donations bag.


It's mostly cleared out now, but at a glance I stil see a styrofoam glider, a microscope set, a chemical set, a wooden dinosaur model, a bag of stuff from a science fair project on Fibanocci, baseball garters and bating glove, and a couple ball caps. I feel a sense of release for having done this. I feel like I'm reaching the point when I can finally leave home and move permanently (though I'll probably be back for at least a month after I graduate). I hadn't thought much about a lot of the stuff in there for a long time, and it lead to a lot of neat reflection (and hey, I made a couple new contacts and a trip to Greeley that was fairly odor-free out of it). I can only imagine what it'll be like when my parents move out of the house (or die before doing so, leaving my brother and I the unenviable task of sorting through three generations of vast arrays of objects). I have a much better understanding of the value of yearbooks now. I used to be anti-yearbook, because I wanted people to remember the way I was, not the way I looked on the first day, dressed up for a picture. Mostly that was in my anti-photography anti-movie phase, which I'm happily past. It is true that year books don't capture my essence and most signatures in them are dumb ("See you in the car! Millhouse"), but they're rather catalystic. Just seeing someone's face clues you in to memories of all the stuff they did. And when you're trying to figure out who what's-his-name was, you've got all the names right there. I ought to create a time capsule of some of this stuff as well as stuff from high school and college. It's fun to find these things every ten years under piles of crap. Do neat freaks get to have this kind of fun?

  • Current Music
    I liked the Beatles and other 60s stuff from my parents