Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Diary: In October, 1999.



September 1999 had been a big month. I want to say that October began a few days after my Flint friends – Josh, Sarah, Sam, Mitch, and Bree – had headed home and I went down to the Pit for a ginger ale with Cynthia and Armand.
Wracking my brain, I cannot remember all of the classes that I took that quarter. I think I was taking a Biology sequence. Not one of the Nat Sci sequences (because I fashioned myself a badass), but nothing for geniuses either. It frustrated me. Biology classes always do. I think I took a G.S. Hum criticism course as well. Not the one with Ted Cohen (that was my Fourth Year), but the one with Herman Sinaiko. Maybe.

Certainly Claudia Allen's Playwriting class was the most memorable. I was listening to the Lords of Acid's Voodoo U nightly, but then the new Tori Amos, To Venus and Back came out, and I added it to my rotation. It was somehow less abstruse than Choirgirl Hotel, while also being meatier and more supple. With songs like Lust, Suede, Spring Haze, and Concertina, I never figured out why so many of my friends considered it a bomb. The last was partial-inspiration for a scene of the same name that I wrote for Claudia's class. Rachel Silverman acted it out, quite effectively, and this might have been the academic high point of my entire college experience. I still have it, somewhere.

This week, whatever week it happened (Fourth Week) was the key to my Autumn Quarter. See, you all think that I'm silly for giving the years names, but it really vied for a long time with a system similar to the British habit of naming eras after their monarchs. I'd develop long-term, hopeless crushes on unattainable girls, and while I was already naming years, I often thought of them in terms of these romantic unfulfillables. It wasn't fair to me, myself, since it inevitably overshadowed my own achievements and other experiences. It also meant that I was putting humans up on pedestals, which is, ahem, unwise. During the summer I fell hard for A.S., and during winter break, I fell almost as hard for A.H. In Chicago, my crush for S.A. was not mild, but certainly gentler and less encumbered by delisions of reciprocity. It's probably part of the reason that I had such a productive quarter, as well as why that autumn was slightly less memorable than the months before or after.

The whole thing with S.A. started in the Playwriting class when Rachel read my "Concertina" piece, and S.A. asked if I was a Tori Amos fan – if the piece had had anything to do with the song. That was the moment when the crush started off, and I consulted with Armand and began various dorky strategems of my own.

I wasn't a complete romantic wash, however. I'd had encounters the prior summer, in sufficient numbers to have a bit of experience and know what I as doing. It was just that I could never evoke the response I wanted from the person I wanted. An example of this happened walking back from the Reynolds Club one night early that month, when Armand (?) and I ran into AJ and one of is friends. As we walked back to BJ, Armand talked to AJ and I talked to his friend. We hit it off and she followed me back to my room where we talked for another hour or so. She explained that she was bummed because October had always been a good month for her romantically – 100% of the time in fact – but here it was the 15th and there was no sign of anything happening. I commented that, well, if Halloween rolled around and none of the fish were biting, she was free to stop by.

You should never say something like that if you don't mean it from the core of your being.

I could flirt and even deliver pickup lines, but if S.A., for example, wasn't interested, then all of the flirting in the world wasn't going to make a difference. On the other hand, I went (in a bit of a cowardly way) to hide in Armand's room on Halloween, because a housemate (Ed) had told me that the "October Girl" was looking for me.

This was before our dorm became haunted; that was to happen in November.

And speaking of Armand, the most exciting weekend of the month really revolved around his 21st birthday, Halloween, officially (this might have actually happened the first weekend in November?). He was one of the most popular people in the dorm, and so unassuming that four of us, individually and independently, decided to throw him a surprise party. We ended up combining our plans with the effect that I don't know if Armand's ever fully recovered from that weekend. On Friday Lisa M. and I were to ride to Minnesota with him to visit his friend at Carlton College (since nobody had planned anything for his birthday). We took the Red Line up to Wrigleyville (during which I got into an argument with a Scientologist) and borrowed Lisa's brother's car. From there, we drove north toward Wisconsin, taking a detour to Rockland where we were to covertly rendezvous with Ben, Liz, and Armand's friend (whom we had arranged to transport to Chicago). I was to make contact with the second group, but they had been delayed, and I had to leave on the pretext of snatching a cool looking sign. An hour later, the connection finally happened. Armand was relieved just enough to not be angry with us. The next day, we threw a party at Ben's apartment, and after hanging out there for several hours, I took Armand out to the Checkerboard for some Blues. It started a great new tradition, in fact, cut short only when the Checkerboad closed due to missed rent payments (though I believe it's open again in Hyde Park now). The lounge even had their own driving service; an old man in a beat up Buick brought us back home.

Other things were going on, of course. I had spent most of the month readying my proposal for Artaud's Cenci for University Theater. I made at least one or two trips to Canaryville. There was certainly one night when Irinia, Bela, Lisa, Liz, Ben, Armand, Chris, and I all made a picnic dinner and ate it in the grass on Stagg Field. We threw a frisbee, and tried to jump high enough to touch the goalposts, but we couldn't.

Where were you in October 1999?

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