Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Summer Break, Day Forty

This is really bad. When I was filling in the title I almost wrote fourty... And i'm paying a boatload to learn how to write...

Day one of the roadtrip is coming to a close. We're in Chicago at my apartment.

Today we went into the city. Ate lunch at the Elevens City Diner, my favorite restaurant in the city. Then we wandered around the city to give James a flavor of my life without the class and work.

He told me about this great tea place in the Water Tower Place called Teavana.

Back when Beaners was still a decent coffee place, before they became this evil corporation, they had a tea called Temple Of Heaven Gunpowder. Or just gunpowder for short. This was the best tea I'd ever had. It tasted great alone, and even better when smoking a pipe with Campbell's 50th Anniversary blend. Then they changed brands, and I was out of luck... Until today. Teavana had Gunpowder, which I bought four ounces of. Yay!

This evening we went for a run. It was cut short by James's need to do some business in the gentlemen's room.

Tomorrow we are going up to Evanston.

It's raining outside right now. Thank god it held off until after we got home from dinner. But at the same time thank god it's raining. It's so bloody humid right now.

Enjoy the pictures.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Summer Break, Day Thirty-Nine

It's the end of summer.

I'm hitting the phase that strikes the last three weeks of every summer. I call it (uncreatively) the "end of summer slump." It's the weird mid-phase where the idea of summer ending and work restarting is still far enough off to be something desirable, and the amount of time spent just sitting, not actually doing anything, but just sitting, has lost its novelty and you want nothing more than to just work, lose yourself in it, and watch the time pass like a rushing stream beneath you. It always happens about three weeks before the end of summer. Usually right after the end of my family vacation. I've spent a week doing nothing in a place that means everything to me, and I come home feeling more exhausted, but my level of activity is still higher than it was at home. I get home, and I sit. Friends are working, some are starting school early, and I just sit. It doesn't matter how many months have preceded the summer. Take this summer for instance. Most people have around 15 weeks to do what they please. I took summer classes and had seven. One of which was spent at the cottage. I've gotten through the first four. Three weeks till school and BAM! the summer slump hit like a ton of bricks.

The problem is that I'm still lazy enough to not do anything to remedy it. Just gripe.

Enter the solution:

My friend James and I have made it an annual tradition now to go to The Alpine Valley Music Theater to see The Dave Matthews Band for a two night concert series.

So here we are. It's Tuesday night. We made a mad 3 hour dash from Haslett Michigan to my apartment on the north side of Chicago, where we will spend the next three days just bumming around and giving him the touristy time he never gets.

We left Haslett at about 5:30, and about twenty minutes later came to the realization that I'd left my apartment keys hanging conveniently on a key hook at my parent's home in Haslett. After a series of worried phone calls I managed to plan and execute a hook up with my roommate, Matt, on the south side of Chicago, where he was going out on a date with his new girlfriend. Then we braved the gauntlet of the Dan Ryan and another 40 minutes wandering the streets trying to find a parking spot...

Only a few pictures tonight, we were too tired to remember, but tomorrow I promise there shall be more of the insanity.

School is now only two weeks away.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Summer Break, Day Thirty Four

I got a massage today. While not the first back rub I've ever gotten, it's the first "real" massage from a masseuse. Well, ok, so she's not technically a masseuse, but more a masseuse-in-training.

Noble's roommate, Corey, is an opera student who realized that she wants to be able to make a living and eat more than once a week. So she took a year off school and is in the middle of earning her masseuse certification (or whatever it is called). And for a great price she is giving massages. It's part of her certification (not the prices, but the training massages), and I was more than happy to help her.

Noble is a friend from high school who lived with me for about six months to save himself an hour commute from Alma (where his parents moved) to Haslett five days a week. He's one of the guys who I would call brother. Now he's a music major at Michigan State living in a duplex out in Lansing. We still get together from time to time to make music, play Risk/Axis and Allies, or just burn time.

The massage couldn't have been better timed. I had to take care of getting loan information figured out this morning. And nothing is more stress inducing for me than working on student loans. By the time I was in the car on my way to Lansing I was stressed to the point of snipping and cussing at every little thing.

Corey told me as I was stripping to my boxers that she has had people propose to her while on the massage table. I laughed. Then when she finally got to massaging my head and neck I damn near rushed out to buy a ring.

Take note girls: massaging my head is crack cocaine. It's kryptonite. I will melt like putty.

Then I came home and had to go right to work finishing painting my sister's old room. That's been the biggest reason that I haven't been on to update my blog. Instead of rebuilding my collages in a new room I've decided to take a little more conservative approach. I painted two of my walls, one a dark blue, one a sky blue. The other two I left white. Then I'm going to get some nice art deco prints and some cheap frames and create a more professional room. It'll be a little more welcoming for guests, which is a smart move because I'm not spending as much time in my room any more.

So tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow I get all of my stuff out of my old room and unpack it in my new room.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Summer Break, Day Thirty One (Quick Aside)

Alex Ross Mystery Project

Yay for Ross going back to Marvel.

Boo for Marvel not having a strong enough will to keep the man dead.

Real post later.

Summer Break Day Thirty

I went to my family reunion today, and it was like watching a rerun of the Sopranos.

Here's a quick history. My dad is the middle child of thirteen, and that is just one generation back. He's apart of this epic clan from the Italian town of St Ipolito. The family name is Spagnuolo. They cover a whole ton of other families including the Carusos, and the De Lucas. My family reunion involves a few thousand people and takes over this Catholic church and the surrounding church grounds.

There are rows of picnic tables and coolers as far as the eye can see. I can't name even a tenth of the people who are there (I have trouble keeping the names of my dad's siblings straight). The patriarchs of the family sit in groups under the large oaks and maples in recliners that are old and frayed in the corners. People stream past them like they are godfathers and everyone leans in, gives them a handshake and a kiss on the cheek (very European). Half the adults are overweight, and nearly 2/3 are in Italian soccer jerseys or some piece of clothing with Adidas logos. And the kids are running around playing soccer or throwing baseballs.

That's my family reunion. I should've brought my camera and taken pictures, but I am terrible about remembering that.

This weekend was also the Great Lakes Folk Festival. I spent two days at that wandering around, listening to music and people watching.

Saturday night there was a band called Grupo Fantasma playing at the Dance Stage, and I ended up dancing with a group of friends I hadn't seen in years for almost two hours.

I'm playing golf again tomorrow with my dad (third time this year, which is beyond rare for me).

Friday, August 10, 2007

Summer Break, Day Twenty Eight Part Deux

I feel like a king stuck on the throne of the innermost sanctuary of his keep. While all around barbarian invaders are closing in. The walls rumble with their slapping feet, and the pounding of spear on shield. And I am alone. And I can feel the inevitable crawl of time, and the inevitable failure of my defenses.

It's funny, looking at the preceding post. I wasn't planning on doing a second one today, but seeing the topic of the first, and the events that ensued it seems only right.

My sister has finally claimed victory in forcing me from my bedroom.

I'm packing slowly, cleaning reluctantly, and watching as she cheerfully moves in. It was inevitable, I know, but it still sucks.

The major part was the disassembling of my walls.

Over the past six years I slowly covered my walls with random clippings, pictures, posters, bumper stickers, other stickers, and anything that I could get a ring of tape on. Soon the wall itself was masked under this amoebic explosion of me, my psyche, my soul, and my life. Intricate patterns of senior pictures, movie tickets, quarter sheets from concerts I went to or played in with my band, Anomaly. All that came down today in a solemn disassembling.

My dresser was emptied, my shelves were cleaned, and my closet gutted. All the while my sister sat greedily at the threshold, arms crossed, face a mask of cold joy. Death Cab played quietly in the background.

I've yet to be fully ousted. My pile of stuff is still in there. But the end is coming quick. The end is on the horizon and will be reached in a matter of miles.

I'm going to take the pile of pictures and miscellanea that I salvaged from my wall and create a scrapbook. It's not something I would usually do. The wall was my scrapbook. My ex used to enjoy coming over and just staring at the walls. It was like a giant "where's waldo?" Hidden pictures, surprising finds. Now that I've lost the wall I'm going to condense it into an actual book.

Alright I'm done being sentimental. Now I'm off to play FIFA 07 and enjoy some brewskies with the Duke.

Summer Break, Day Twenty Eight

I need to clean my room.

Sure it's one of those things that my parents repeat like some mantra every time I'm home. Sure it just seems like a common courtesy to do so. But it has nothing to do with the traditional reasons why cleaning my room should be important.

Like every day I've been home thus far, this morning I was cheerfully awoken by the dog at an hour far earlier than I should be. I lie on the couch covered up in a blanket minding my own business, and what does she do? Walks up. Sticks her nose in my face. And then she starts barking until I get up. And how do I stop it? Walk into the living room and sit down. Not let her out. Not feed her. Not even pay attention to her. Just climb out of bed and walk into the other room grumbling and swearing the whole way. And to think that I usually tell people that I miss my dog while I'm away at college... Right.

Stardust was phenomenal. I found a place that was actually having a midnight showing.

I know. Surprised me too.

Maybe I'm just partial to Gaiman. Maybe you can just put his name on anything, and like any of his fans I'll gobble it up with the ferocity unmatched. Either way I had a helluva time for as late as it was. Didn't nod off once (and I did at The Return Of The King, so eat that). Everyone who reads it should go and enjoy this movie as much as I did.

Other than that life has been a whole lot of quiet.

Sorry no clickies or pickies. More to come, when stuff happens

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Summer Break, Day Twenty Six

All is quiet on the western front.

I've been mostly laying low for the past few days. Sleeping occasionally. Seeing friends occasionally. On the whole it has been mostly nothing.

And then it hit me that I'm already hitting that point of summer break where everything is just a bland day-to-day nothing. It never used to happen until about High School. Now, approaching my final year of my undergrad, I've had the shortest summer yet. Seven weeks off to do whatever I want. Usually it is almost double or more and I am hitting this point after seven weeks of doing nothing. Now, three weeks in, I'm stagnating, and can't wait to get back to the daily grind. I miss the feel of productivity. The crunch time. The caffeine induced marathons of homework.

I got plugged into this unique use of new media, called lonelygirl15. I know that by the name it sounds like porn, and if you watch the first couple of video blog entries of it, it may seem that way too, but trust me, stick with it, and it's worth the payoff.

This is a terrible excuse for a blog entry. I need to start writing. I need to start finding more amusing prompts to blog about. I need school, or at least this Dave Matthews Band road trip to come quicker. I also need to get my camera out of the dashboard of my jeep and start taking actual pictures.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Summer Break, Day Twenty Three

I'm home.

I'm both exhausted and recharged. Going to Houghton Lake always has a tendency to do that to me. I go up with the intention of coming home feeling recharged and ready to take on the world. This never happens. I come home and I'm more exhausted and in need of a vacation from my vacation.

The family vacation has always been a special time that many people cannot wrap their head around. When told that I'm going to spend a week with my family most people would expect that to be followed up by groans, sly remarks about my potential suicide, or the loss of my sanity. For most people my age that would seem to be the truth. The idea of spending time with family is (for many) a necessary evil that should be dealt with quickly. For me the family vacation is a highlight of my summer.

We go to our cottage at Houghton Lake with family friends who we only see one week out of the year because they live in Wisconsin, a whole Great Lake away.

One of the centric events (and now in its second year, a tradition) is the volleyball games we play. This year it spanned three days. One match of three games each day. Best of three games takes the match, best of three matches takes bragging rights for the next year. Last year my team got skunked. And were forced to deal with the ridiculous bragging of "What it be," the slogan Keith, the dad of our Wisconsin friends, had said in a vain attempt to be "hip." Well this year "what it be" has become "what it was." We smoked them in the first two matches, going completely undefeated.

We tubed nearly every day, and went water skiing once. The first time we took the boat out with the intent of water skiing we managed to get one person around, and then when we were getting ready to run my mom we were faced with the most bizarre mechanical failure I'd ever seen. The motor on the pontoon stopped kicking water, felt like it wouldn't engage, and then after a further inspection we found that it had lost its motor. How that happened is still a mystery to us. We were forced to swim the pontoon in to shore, which proved a grueling task that was averted after a few hundred yards of swimming by a nice couple in another pontoon who towed us back to the cottage.

This year we also managed to get the jet skis out and run them around the lake. I managed to secure a series of awesome blisters and scabs on my thumbs from the handle bars.

The past few years our family vacation has been marked by mild weather, storms, and a whole lot more inside. This year we were hit with 90s and sunny every day.
I unplugged for the whole week. Sent a couple texts and made a couple phone calls and then turned my phone off. My laptop came out once on the last Friday long enough to download some of the pictures, but for the most part stayed tucked away. The lack of technology has been a wonderful time. I wrote a bit in long hand (like seven pages of quick snippets of scenes). I started a new short story I'm thinking about for the Rosebud competition that involves soldiers in Baghdad and a conversation with an Ifrit. I'm not entirely sure what to do with it, but we'll see if it manages to amount to something more than a couple pages of amusing writing. I read a whole lot, finished the 7th Harry Potter (which wasn't entirely what I expected, but was a very good and very grand conclusion to a really good series), nearly finished the 4th Dark Tower: The Wizard and Glass (probably my favorite of the series yet), and played a whole lot of crossword puzzles.

I also played the best game of golf I'd ever played. My friends and I are talking about actually going out and playing golf around here, which has me excited.

When I got home earlier today I went and spent some time with my friend, Zach, and ended up playing some pick up Ultimate Frisbee with friends at a park around the corner from my friends house.

I got my hands on a stack of new music that you all should check out.

St. Vincent - "Marry Me"
Imogen Heap - "Speak For Yourself"
A Fine Frenzy - "One Cell In The Sea"

Now that this long entry is done, I'm off to go lift weights and read and sleep because tomorrow I need to go to my aunt's house and work.