Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It could be worse... I could have gotten stabbed in the eye

Not too great a day today. I felt two strong emotions, which was kind of nice because it brought me out of a rut, a little bit, but not really, because those emotions were anger and disappointment.

First, the anger. Webster Hall locks the laundry rooms after 11:00pm. If your clothes are in there, they say, get them out tomorrow morning. Never mind that a night of wet clothes wadded up in a washing machine is very bad. Anyway, it took a lot of hassle and persuasion of Rusty (the name of our security guard, we think) to get the door open. That still left me with wet clothes. So I put them all around the apartment on the floor to dry out. Sigh. It made me really mad; madder than I should have been. Bureaucracy, etc. I'll complain and stuff, but really, it just made me mad- because why the hell should they lock our laundry room?

Next, and this is the biggie, the disappointment. I tried to give blood today. This was going to be a big deal- today would be the day that I conquered my fear of needles! Turns out that before you give the blood, you have to get a finger-prick blood test. Turns out that that test involves squeezing a few drops of blood out of this miniscule prick. Turns out I just can't conceptually handle that.

I hyperventilated a little, got lightheaded, and they took me in the wheelchair over to the rest bed. I was a bit of a wreck. I was expecting a shot: like they say, you feel a little pinch in the arm, then you sit there for 10 minutes and you're done! Easily done, I save a few lives, and I prove that I can do anything. But the finger-prick test is worse. Squeezing blood out of a pin-hole- I mean, I'm getting queasy as I write this. I remember getting a little weak in the limbs while sitting on the rest table, I remember asking for water (and getting a Sprite; bad call, Red Cross, that'll dehydrate you!), but mostly I remember crying.

I haven't cried for a while. Three months? Shit! It was probably for something just as minor that time too. And cliche cliche trite trite, but it felt a little bit good. Here's how my thoughts went: I blew it. I'm not going to be able to give blood now. ... damn. I can't just get this over with. Moreover, though: I am not the amazing dude that I thought I was. I can't just waltz in and demolish a phobia, I guess. I looked at myself, right into my deepest fears, confronted them...

This is not the story of the guy who takes swimming lessons to get over his fear of the water. This is not the girl who is terrified of fire until she has to rescue her baby brother, and she brings him out of the burning building into her parents' eternally grateful arms. This isn't even the guy who finally works up the courage to ask out that cute girl he has a crush on. And that's the thing: I thought I was that guy... evidently not. That was the most crushing part- I have these fears, and I'm not the hero. I cried for a bit.

Fuck all, I wanted to be a lot more eloquent here. Suffice it to say that I felt really despairing around 5:35 today. It felt a little good, and I wanted to just wallow in some self pity. Then, later on, I decided, what's the point of that? At least I tried, and I'll just try again next Bloodmobile. The Strong Man wouldn't take no for an answer; moreover, to wallow in self pity is self-indulgent and obnoxious. Don't be that guy who everyone has to feel sorry for.

And that's how I feel now. Which one is the real me, though? Am I the Strong Man, and that was just a bout of insanity brought on by a psychosomatic fear over which I have no control? Am I the brooding Feeling Man who cannot face his fears, but who can face the fact that he cannot face his fears? (you'll notice I've avoided the term "emo" here- that has negative connotations. It's not "emo" I'm talking about here, but just the kind of person that everyone loves for being lower status)

So I'm wondering who I am. I think, ultimately, I'm not the tough guy type who is a "winner" in all senses of the word, I'm not the guy who takes some bad beats and whom everyone pities; I'm the guy who can see both sides of me and understand them, I guess. I'm not skillful enough and I'm too self-analyzing to be the tough guy- I can't win at everything, and I admit that. And I'm too successful to be the lovable loser; in a lot of ways (like trying to give blood), I'm a pretty sweet dude! ... ultimately, I guess the "middle path" that I'm trying to walk is the ideal. Go Buddhists, go Greeks.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Do you know what a jitney is? or, Tonight, I am a racist, or, 30 Pabst for me, please!

This story isn't as good as the Sufjanesque title that I gave it.

I get off my Greyhound bus and went to look for a cab. They had all just left. So a black guy says "Hey, you looking for a cab?" I say yeah, he says come with me. So I follow him into the parking lot, expecting to be taken to a cab. Nope! It's a regular car. I'm a little apprehensive of getting into a car with an entire stranger, so I tell him I'll just wait for a cab. He says okay, looking a little defeated, and I leave. On the way back to the building, another guy asks if I need a ride. I say "Do you drive a cab?" and he says "I'm a jitney, I drive a cab part time." Me: "Do you have a license?" Him: "Yeah."

It dawns on me, this is a regular thing. Not every cab driver has a big yellow cab. And I'm going to get a ride from this white guy, and the black guy sees me, and he probably thinks I'm a giant racist.

Anyway, this cabbie is a nice guy. His name's Ray, we talk about football and stuff, the usual. He's an older guy, single, and drives a lot; one night, he was telling me, someone gets off the bus and asks him for a ride to New York City. Hey, it's good pay for a day's drive! (of course, he drove up and back in a night. Got home around 7 or 8 AM)

As I'm heading out, he says "You going to be watching the game?" I say yeah, he says, "Yeah, I am too. I'll probably drink a six-pack. Course, back when I was your age, I'd probably drink a case or two!"

Side note: unless something unforeseen happens, I am giving blood on Tuesday! Those of you who know me well know that I have two big phobias: needles and bugs, with needles being the bigger of the two. Well, you get over your fear of heights by riding roller coasters, right? Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

More Cooking!

Tonight: another bag of vegetables, a batch of whole wheat bread, and some chicken curry. Damn. Doesn't sound like so much, but it took a long time! It's the baking that does it; baking is difficult. Especially when you don't have an electric mixer.

Cooking: another arbitrary system of goals that I set up for myself. And it feels good when I complete them. Complete happiness, costing only a couple hours and the price of groceries.

Also note: the Indian grocery store (Kohl's) on Craig Street ROCKS A LOT. You can get spices there (granted, not all spices; but everything Indian, such as cumin and cilantro, which I needed today) for a lot cheaper than Giant Eagle. Giant Eagle = what a ripoff. Also, they have some fresh hot things like Samosas (a fried thing with potato-pea mash inside) which are evidently really good! Check the place out, it rocks a little more than Seoul Mart.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My culinary output tonight was extensive

Okay, so I made 4 bagels, a batch of tabbouleh, a bag of vegetables, and a bunch of roasted garlic. Not really that extensive. Unless you consider that bagels evidently take two and a half hours (half hour to make/knead the dough, half hour to rise, half hour to rise again, few minutes to boil, half hour to cook, plus the "magic of cooking" makes everything take longer)

Man, my output today as a human was extensive:
- went to 4 classes, enjoyed 2 of them (business and german) and paid attention well in all 4 (incl. programming and AI)
- enjoyed the gyros and grape leaves from the trucks. You can get grape leaves for 25c each! What a deal! And so delicious!
- made a "table" for NPP w/ Grubb
- went to the whole darn activities fair, mostly pushing NPP
- lifted weights
- went to music staff at WRCT (labeled new CDs for a couple hours)
- came home and cooked all of the aforementioned items.

I feel like I justified my existence today. Rock on!

edit: the bagels are complete. they are four. they are really big, and they are delicious. time well spent, I say.
also, this

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Two things I learned today

1. This fleecey synthetic vest that I have, that I got for Christmas from The Backpacker's Shop in Sheffield, Ohio, and which is therefore very very overpriced but very good quality, actually is good quality. It is so warm. Rapidly rising on my list of "favorite clothing items" (said list is clearly very extensive.)

2. I'm all for forgiveness, and love-thy-neighbor, and avoid-road-rage, and being nice in general; but if you honk at bikers, or try to run them off the road, or otherwise menace them, you're pretty much the biggest piece of shit ever. Okay, I didn't learn this today, I already knew it.

If you could be any animal, what would you be?

I have 2 finalists:

1. Mountain lion (or puma, if you will)- he doesn't take crap from anyone. He is very fast, doesn't have to worry about being eaten, and isn't just some member of a pack. He is himself. Plus, they live on a mountain.

2. Dolphin- well, they're smart, obviously. But they're also sleek and they shoot through water like it's nobody's business. "But they're in the ocean," you say, "that's boring, no?" No! It looks boring to us, but that's just because we can't see all the cool stuff that's really there. Plus, there's so much more ocean than land on earth. They live in packs, (right?) but they're still smart enough to be individual. Like humans, I guess. Social but individual.

Some kind of bird of prey might be cool too. But that's trite. Everyone is that. Course, mountain lion is trite too. Whatever.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Adding an example to the previous post

For increased clarity.

So we all create these little systems to give ourselves rewards. It's almost like we're rats in a maze, but we create the maze, and we decide how much cheese we get at the end (corresponding to the difficulty of the maze). You could say your life goal is to climb Mount Everest, and that takes a lot of time, but then you've climbed Mt. Everest and you feel like "Man, I'm amazing!"

And here's an example that relates to my life a lot: I love skiing. If you've been around me for a while or seen my apartment wall (plastered with ski maps) you probably know that. So it's kind of become a life goal for me to ski as much as possible. I mean, someone asks if you had a million dollars, what would you do? and my stock answer has always been "Go skiing a lot! And then donate some and invest some, etc" - it gives me something to say to answer that question.

More than that, though, it gives me a way to experience a reward. I know that, when I'm skiing, I'm doing a good thing, not in the traditional sense of "doing a good deed" but in the sense of "it's making me happy." I know that I'm not missing out on something, because, when I'm skiing, what else would I rather be doing? Nothing! I'd rather be skiing! And it's pretty easy for me to experience this: just get out to a mountain and buy a lift ticket. Infinite gratification for $39/day!

And I wonder, is this worth pursuing? Clearly not as my ultimate life goal, but as a goal in general, it seems pretty good. I can ski for a long time, (into my late 70's if I'm badass like my grandparents) and every time I do it, I get better and skiing gets more fun. It's an arbitrary system of goodness and an arbitrary way to live, but hey, aren't they all?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

"I told you so!" say the Catholic priests

Back in high school, everything was easy. You believe in Catholicism, you do good things, you go to mass on Sunday, you go to heaven. I mean, I didn't believe in Catholicism, but it was still out there as a Worldly Goal. I could still get a spot in heaven if I did good things for God (whatever God I believed in) and other people. And they (the catholics) warned me, they said, a lot of people go off to college and think they don't need God, and then they find their lives to be meaningless.

And I did, and I do. I mean, to an extent; I've sort of given up on God and I sort of feel like life is meaningless. I'd given up on God before, but I had always put Love up there as his replacement. I figure, have good relationships with friends and family, and that's what life is all about. That's the ultimate goal, if you will. But really, that's just another manufactured goal, it seems.

Before I forget, half of this post is Tim's thoughts, so I credit him here.

I mean, if you're a caveman, your need is to find food. Basic survival. But then if you are a modern man, you don't need basic survival anymore. So you move on, your needs become "a lot of money and a big house" so you work your ass off at your cubicle job. Whatever level you're at, you will create more needs for yourself. And here's where Catholicism or any other religion comes in: they give you a goal. You can say "I'm working towards the ultimate goal here- getting to heaven!" and then you can do whatever. It's just one of many goals you can put in front of yourself, I guess.

So, given that there is no meaning to life besides what you create for yourself, what do you do? I guess you say that the goal you're creating is whatever makes you happiest, which (for me anyway) I guess is Love again.

Umm. I'm not being the most coherent now. But overall the train of thought is very despairful. I guess it leaves me at the same place I was before, in that I'm going to put friends and family first, and I'll love a lot of people, and life will be meaningful because I'll be having fun with people I love. The difference is that "meaningful" now will mean "I'm enjoying it" rather than "this is good in and of itself." It's kind of solipsist (is that right?) and overall it seems not a great thought. But it's kind of what I'm thinking now.

The priests told me I'd lose all my direction in life, and hey, I did. But I'm not going to go back to Christianity, because that's another arbitrary goal, and it doesn't make me as happy as Love.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Ever write more than $6600 of checks in a single day?

I just did! Paid my parents back for the ski trip and sent a bunch of money to be deposited in a Roth IRA and a mutual funds account. What?! I thought I had to, uh, have a job to do that, or something. I can see my 5-bedroom suburban house, luxury SUV, and plasma TV now. Well hey, it beats sitting in a bank. Actually, it's kind of great. Putting money in a retirement account (I can also withdraw the money if I want to buy a house) is about the most badass thing I can be doing, I think. And if you disagree, we can fight, and you can beat me up, but then when I retire, I'll use my millions to shoot an inter-continental ballistic missile at your house. Even if you live in the US.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'll trade my shirt for your pants

A Great Idea:

So I'm reading the newspaper, and some lady mentions she was at a "clothing swap." I had never heard the term, but presumably, it's an event where you bring a bunch of clothes you're tired of, and everyone trades some clothes. (am I right, fashion-conscious folks?)

But how about this idea: You don't bring any extra clothes. You just trade what you have on. Furthermore, you may not leave wearing anything you came in with. (okay, your underwear's fine, i mean, otherwise that's kinda gross) But wouldn't that be more fun?

A further variation if you're feeling really crazy: all trades are mandatory.

Monday, January 09, 2006

My adventures with the 12 hour flu

1:30pm- Wake up, feeling pretty good.
2:00pm- Eat some eggs and pancakes, suspect that I ate too much
2:30pm- Lying on the couch, stomach hurts
3:30pm- Cold. Climb into bed.
4:00pm- Really cold! Wearing a fleece, jeans, and socks. Fitfully falling in and out of sleep.
6:00pm- Hot! Now wearing T-shirt and shorts. Still sort of in and out of consciousness.
9:30pm- Wake up, take temperature, it's 102.3. Take some Tylenol.
11:00pm- Wake up, feeling a bit better, read a bit, back to sleep.
7:00am- Wake up. Back to sleep.
2:00pm- Wake up. Feel fine, no fever.

So there you go, nothing that an astronomical amount of sleep won't fix. It was almost kind of funny- of all times in the last 2 years to get sick, this was the single best one. Hell, I had nothing better to do. Might as well get sick for a day. At any rate, I think I'm all better now.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The sort of thing you'd expect to happen in a gondola, in a movie

I tossed my skis in the rack on the side of the gondola and climbed in, the seventh one into an eight person car. I was in the singles line, I think the first six were from the regular group line. Fair enough- I waited in line for about 30 seconds, they probably waited 15 minutes. Their loss.

There was the usual semi-chaos that accompanies loading a gondola. It's really not that hard, but still, you have to get 8 people plus skis into a car before it shoots up the mountain. It's mostly calm, but there's always a little hustle and bustle. Eventually we're on the way up, I'm looking out the little part of the window that opens. I think to start the usual lift-ride chitchat, but I delay, and then it becomes too late to start the small talk. You can't go halfway up the hill and then say "nice day today, eh?" (The idea of idle banter while going up the lift might sound lame. Really, it's not. I mean, usually I basically grill people for info. Is it supposed to snow tomorrow? Where else is good to ski around here? What trails have the best snow? etc. It's useful, and then you feel like you've made a friend for a few minutes. It's the kind of thing that real badass skiers would probably do all the time. No, not the skiers who are doing 720's in the half-pipe- they're hoodlums, not badasses. I mean the maybe 35 year old skiers who are going off-piste into the backcountry, hunting far and wide for fresh powder, that kind of badass.)

Anyway, I'm saved from my chat-or-not dilemma by the other six starting up a little dialogue among themselves. Fine. I didn't really feel like talking anyway. For probably the first time, I glance straight across the gondola, at passenger #8, and then we both quickly look away because we just accidentally made eye contact, and when that happens, you have to look away. But I couldn't help but wonder, as I studied the mountain out the window again while really looking through my peripheral vision, who she was.

Here we have a description of a girl who particularly caught my eye. You can skip this paragraph if you want; it's only a list of qualities. Most are undoubtedly unoriginal- if I had a pretzel crumb for every ignorant git who described a girl in a lot of trite words, I could make the pie crust that I made tonight. If I had a milliliter of pudding for each amateur who used "beautiful" a lot in such a description, I could make the pie filling and have enough left over to make up for Killington's lack of snow by covering the mountain in pudding. Anyway, since you've tossed me an "attaboy" by continuing to read, I'll try to hold up my end of the bargain by avoiding pie ingredients altogether. Light blue. That's the first color that jumps into my mind- I guess that's obvious, because she was wearing a light blue coat. Her hat was blue too- that's fair. Her ski clothes happen to match, that's cool. Hell, all mine do. I'm like Gothy McGotherson on that mountain, black like Slipknot. But this isn't about me. And of course her hair was blonde and straight. Consciously, I say I like brown hair. I always fall for blondes though. Am I deluding myself? Hard to say, not a large enough sample size. But really, enough about me! Anyway. She was good-looking, sure, but not remarkably good looking, and that was probably the most remarkable thing about her. Given an attractive snowboarder (did I mention she was carrying a snowboard?), I'd expect her to be aggressively attractive. Just on average- the stereotypical female snowboarder, in my mind, is a polished sort of beautiful, and will kick your ass in the terrain park. Passenger #8 wasn't and wouldn't. She was too attractive to be younger than me and too innocent to be older.

And who was she, anyway? Why was she riding the gondola silently and alone? It's possible she was just in the singles line to speed up the wait, but as I found out when we got to the top, she was boarding on her own. Was she just here with her friends and taking some time by herself, like me? Was she here with family, even? Was she a local, up for the day? Couldn't be- she didn't look comfortable enough with being here.

At this point, the six started talking about poker. Someone suggested calling someone else to play poker after skiing. Someone else mentioned that he had brought chips. And then the poker stories came out. (let me say that, in general, your poker story is not interesting.) "Man, I lost half my chips the other night, I had two pair and he made a full house!" "That sucks. One time I had nothing on the flop, and I made a set on the river, and beat the guy with two pair." "And then, the next hand, I had jack-2, and I folded, and the flop was jack, jack, 2." (and let me say that, in particular, THIS poker story is not interesting. You folded your shitty hand, you made the correct play, don't whine about it. I'm going to reiterate: this is NOT an interesting story.) Anyway, about the six: most of them snowboarded, they were all quintessential thugs. Their stories got more Neanderthal until I felt like they had their own little car, and passenger #8 and I were floating out in space alongside.

And yet, passenger #8 and I were in separate cars too. From time to time, I'd stop looking out the window, to catch another glimpse of her- I wanted to remember what she looked like. But of course, I only saw her in the big panoramic swoops that my eyes took, making eye contact with three of the six as much as her, as if every other spot in my field of vision would get jealous if my eyes were spending any extra time in her direction. I don't think we even made eye contact again for about six minutes. That's three fourths of an eight minute gondola ride.

But when the stories turned to boasts of drunkenness that were made to seem like they weren't boasts, but they clearly were, our eyes finally met for the first time since that first second in which we tried not to acknowledge each other's existence. They stayed locked for probably four seconds. How many facial expressions can be conveyed, how much information can you possibly say, in four seconds of subtle eye movements? Evidently it's more than either of us knew. For me, it was a glance to the side, a furrowed brow that indicated disgust at the six and the culture that they represent, a half second of straight faced eye contact, a mischievous half grin and a glance out the window, a quick eyebrow raise, and a full second of smiling eye contact, broken off quickly as if one of the six would notice or care. I couldn't replicate the expressions her eyes made if I tried, but I know it ended with the same grin.

The moment passed, and the gondola arrived at the top of the mountain. As I had the quicker route outside, I stepped out, deftly grabbed my skis, lumbered over to the mountain and put them on. I got the hell out of there as fast as I could, because I knew she could walk down the stairs and put her snowboard on faster than I could get my skis on. I took the most obscure trail down- I couldn't even tell you the name, because nobody skis on it. But it was a long groomer, and I was flying down it. And, of course, because my life is a movie, I turned my head, and she was right behind me. We completed our fifth second of eye contact ever. At that point, I was skiing faster than I had ever skied, on any hill, ever. I pulled up a bit, let her get ahead of me, and quickly dialed my friends to say I was skiing through lunch. That's believable; I'm a nut. If the mountain stayed open all day and all night and I told them I was skiing 72 hours straight, they'd believe me. I completed the phone call and put my phone back in my pocket, pulled into a tuck, which turned into a sit-down, and I pulled up even with her, and then passed her again.

You take it from there.

At a certain point, the above story changes from fact into fiction. You get three guesses as to when, and the first two don't count.

Dreams or nightmares?

No, seriously. Some people like nightmares better because then you wake up and they're over, and life is so much easier/nicer by comparison.

Today I had a dream that was so great, that after I woke up, after the initial shock, I was furious at my subconscious. If you're a subconscious mind, you don't let someone dream a dream that good and then immediately wake up! You just don't!

All the same, I vote dreams. You don't gain anything by having a bad experience and then realizing it was all a dream. And it's nice while it lasts.

In real news, we had a ski trip, and it was sublime. I really enjoyed Killington, there were few crowds, we got to ski all 21 hours that we planned to ski, the weather was as good as it could have been without snowing (the snow was a bit rough. god damn, life is such a tragedy, isn't it?), and the company was excellent. I mean Beej, Mike, Rob, Erika, and Jared, not the company that owns Killington, although they weren't bad either.

I felt so healthy. It was great. There's something very satisfying about skiing like hell as long as you possibly can, then collapsing, eating a bunch, sleeping a bunch, and doing it all the next day. We cooked our own food because we are too sweet to let the restaurants devour all of our money. We made the trip in under $350 each, all things included. I took a lesson, I think I learned a bunch, Jared and I skied the whole mountain, I felt really confident on my skis. I feel like I've done something pretty good already this year, and it's only January 7.

New Year's Resolutions. I feel like there's nothing wrong with these. In Fight Club, I think the narrator makes a comment like "Self-improvement is masturbation. Self-destruction is where it's at." Couldn't be farther from the truth, in my mind. So New Year's Resolutions are good.

Mine may be posted soon. But my first one will be something to the effect of "cut the crap." I don't need to check my email every 15 minutes, I don't need to eat Frosted Mini-Wheats just because I'm bored, I don't need to force myself to do something that I don't want to do, need to do, or have anything to gain by doing. Quitting Lambda Sigma was a step in the right direction; removing the links on this blog so I don't check them every day was another good one (although I'll still check them every so often- it's good to know what people are thinking, or at least what they want me to think they're thinking); deleting all computer games on this machine will be too. I want to pare my life down to the essentials, and at the same time, improve myself to make myself and others around me happier. Maybe more about this later too.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

My New Year's Eve was pretty sweet

Well. How did you folks spend your new year's? You Pittsburghers were probably partying like silly at the Il Valletto house/Crimes of Fashion house/4626 Forbes/That house with the roofs/Just this place, you know? That sounds like fun, wish I could have been there.

But on the opposite end of the spectrum (That's not true; the opposite end of the spectrum would probably be working in a rice paddy) but somewhere along the spectrum, I had a pretty excellent New Year's myself.

So I meet up with my friends Erik, Dan, (two of my best friends since second grade) and Dan's girlfriend Julie (who is pretty cool too). We go to this Hibachi restaurant, where they cook the food in front of you. The walls were covered with framed pictures that had been wrapped up so they looked like Christmas presents. But hey, you go to one of these places for the show, right? Sadly, they were running low on cooks, so I think we got the new guy. He broke both eggs when he was flipping them, flubbed the onion volcano (unless the "volcano" is just supposed to be an onion tower engulfed in flames), and switched up a couple of orders. Whatever. I felt bad for the guy, because I know what it's like to be doing a show and dropping a lot.

I also felt bad for the guy because we expected more. You go to a Mexican restaurant, they bring you Mexican food. You go to a Thai restaurant, they bring you Thai food. But if you go to a Japanese restaurant, dammit, they better be either serving sushi or delivering a Hibachi performance. Come on, he's not juggling his cooking utensils? He's not throwing around flame and chopping up vegetables rhythmically? (by the way, it must be a "he", and he must speak broken English) Wait, why didn't he do the bit where he flips shrimp into your mouth? All in all, it's very Ugly-American to distill an entire cuisine into a necessary dinner theatre. What about the Japanese chefs who just want to cook?

Well, at any rate, maybe I should save this concern for the Japanese chefs. What do I know- maybe they all like the performance cooking. And if not, I'm sure there are some (probably expensive) Japanese places that don't do the whole charade. And hey, the food was very good, even if I did get a stomachache afterward (hopefully just from eating too much)

Cuisine integrity concerns aside, we moved on to the jazz show. It was at the Bop Stop, near West 25th on Detroit. We estimated before we got there that we'd be at most 1/2 the age of everyone else there. We were wrong- more like 1/3. I mean, when we walked in, the average age dropped about 7 years- we were clearly the youngest folks there. (Except for the performers' kids, who showed up about halfway through) I would not be surprised if multiple other people, at some point during the night, looked over at us and said something to the effect of: "Ahh, youth. Remember those splendid aromatic nights during the postwar hedonism where we'd cavort among the fastidious streets of our hometown, displacing melancholy and ushering in freewheeling snappiness? Those triumphant young people, so nattily dressed and resplendently frolicsome, are assuredly enjoying the grapplingly fragile trappings of youth, post-haste."

Or whatever it is that old people say, in their charming "I've been there" way, when they see young people having fun.

The jazz was pretty neat- I found myself actually appreciating it sometimes. The problem is, it's such a barrage- there's always the bassist doing one thing and the piano player doing another, and then the vibraphone or the guitar or the sax starts in and you don't even know which way you're going anymore. Ever been to a rock concert of a band you don't know? It all sounds the same, right? It was a little like that. Cool though.

So about the age thing, uhh, there was a "champagne toast" included at midnight. We thought, there's no way we'd get carded, right? I think the last time they carded anyone was 1972. And that was when one of the performers' four-year-old kids was hanging around and asked for some wine, and the waitress smiled and sweetly asked for his ID, and he looked confused, and all the adults around thought it was so cute. Uhh... so they asked us for ID when bringing out the champagne. And of course we just said we weren't 21 (except Dan), and they brought only him a little bottle of champagne. It was ridiculous. The worst was Julie: she turns 21 on January 11 or something. I said she should have just given the waitress her ID:

Waitress: Do you all have ID?
(Dan and Julie hand her their driver's licenses, Erik and I politely say we're not 21)
Waitress: I'm sorry, ma'am.
Julie: (doesn't say anything)
Waitress: You're not 21 yet.
Julie: (stares at her, still silent. Makes no move to take her driver's license back)
Waitress: ...So, we can't bring you any champagne. ... even though your birthday's in 11 days.
Julie and waitress: (awkward silence)
a few seconds pass
Erik and I: (join in the awkward silence)

I think time itself might have unraveled right there because it couldn't take such an awkward silence. Sadly, none of us is gutsy or mean enough to do that. Point is, again, arbitrary barriers. The kind of kids who spend their New Year's watching jazz are NOT the kind of kids you have to worry about!

However, we win 23595 cool points for spending our New Year's watching jazz! I mean, how excellent is that? For being the youngest people there and not caring, for being able to joke about things such as this guy's green suit (quoth Erik, "At what point in your life do you decide, 'Now is the time to purchase a green suit'?"), for trying something different for this holiday, I propose, to us, a toast!

of Meier's Sparkling White Grape Juice.