The House of Broken Dreams

29 12 2008

During my first semester of my senior year, eight (later seven, thanks to DBA) of us lived in an ill-fated house in Fullerton that was later given its appropriate name by Micah: The House of Broken Dreams.  While the major catastrophic events have been well-chronicled, I still find myself wondering how we ever made it out of there…  Then I remember that we were kicked out by a landlord in danger of having her house repossessed, and I don’t wonder any more. We spent New Year’s Eve (and a day or two on both ends of that) staying up all night to clean and  pack and truck stuff over to the new place that remains fittingly unnamed to this day.

While there aren’t exactly a plethora of great memories to choose from when it comes to that place, I have easily chosen a favorite.  Perhaps it belies my consuming disdain for the proprietor of our house for those brief six months, but I have no choice but to share it:  It was, I believe, November.  On the morning of a sunny fall Monday, we heard a knock at the door.  As was our custom, a couple of us gathered around the door to greet what could only be a friend, surprising us with some unexpected gifts.  Instead, we were met by a squat, greasy man in a suit.  When greeted, he hurriedly began to enumerate the reasons that we needed to let him talk to the owner of the house.  We finally cut him off to say that we had been having trouble contacting her as well, but we could give her a message.  He then said that she had not been answering her phone, and that it was a very urgent matter about some dealings with the bank.  Responding to his stern warning with plaintive pleas of ignorance as to her whereabouts, Mr. Bank T. Squat was then ushered by our doorstep by the cacophonous cries of five college students who had just met a fellow victim of our mutual acquaintance’s incompetence.  Later on, it became clear to us that we had merely reaffirmed his concept of Imelda as a bumbling and foolish person; our plight meant less than nothing to this Fullterton financeer.  (alliteration virus quarantined)

Perhaps it’s not the most dramatic tale of woe to take hold upon your screen, but I do hope I have at least half-decently expressed my feelings of sardonic exuberance upon finding out that our deadbeat landlord was on the run from collection officers.  I mean, shoot man, we were half-sure that we were gonna wind up owning the place after that morning…

If we hadn’t met Brian (lawsuit indefinitely forestalled at this time) so soon afterwards, I surely would have hung Imelda’s sister’s business card (another great* story) at the head of the pantheon of heroic landlords by this time.  Instead, we were soon to encounter the inimitably maladroit stylings of Brian G., at your service.

Also, Boomers is like a rotting corpse containing rotting fruit fly corpses now.  Seriosuly, this place (which drove me to tears on a long-forgotten Saturday afternoon) now makes the Camelot off of the 57 look like the land o’ milk and honey.  Good thing I’ve served my 40 years.

*Definition pending

Reese Roper

27 12 2008

-The Brave Saint Saturn trilogy rivals the Triforce for its effect upon my life.

-Electric Light Orchestra is actually as good as it sounds.

-Listening to long and painful interviews conducted by hesitant simpletons is more excruciating than a ripped cuticle.

-Best simile of 2008 (and just in time!) : Tonight, he’ll have to be on his toes like a dwarf at a urinal.

Seasonal Felicitations

24 12 2008

Last week, the four of us guys drove over to Brea to look at a neighborhood that was supposed to have one of the most extensive and incredible Christmas light displays in the area.  Thankfully, we weren’t disappointed.  While Cory was hacking up something or other from his Black Lung, the rest of us perused a well-to-do community that had clearly imposed its penchant for Christmas Spirit upon the entire area by sheer willpower.  I won’t waste your time (too late, though, really.  I mean, you’re here…) by describing the things we saw, or the oaths that were muttered every time I hit an intersection and asked which way to turn.  I will, however, give you a taste of one of the more unique experiences I have had lately.

Towards the beginning of the jaunt, we passed a house with a driveway full of chairs under a little tarp/tent.  In the middle of the chairs was a firepit, blazing happily.  After noting the light rain, we were sorely tempted to exit the car so as to then experience the sensation of warmth by proximity.  However, a majority of votes was not initially recorded, so we drove on.  As gas began to run low and the evening went on, however, we eventually found ourselves passing the same house.  This time, Thatcher’s appeal to compliment the owners of said house on their generosity was received by a sufficient amount of people, so I parked, and out the three of us went.

We approached the house in what was only a marginal downpour, and slowed our pace as we reached the edge of the driveway.  Ahead, in the shelter of the garage, an older lady dressed in red was apparently cleaning up.  “Quite a setup you’ve got here,” I offered.  The tone of her reply was cordial and friendly: “Well, the rain hurt our turnout a bit.”  As we began to offer our condolences for the literal and figurative dampening of her party, she then went on to say one of the most beautiful sentences I have ever heard:

“Would you like some sandwiches?”

Twenty minutes, six Subway sandwiches, three beverages, an indistinct amount of chips and three heaping slices of chocolate cake later, we were sent on our way by a group of would-be partygoers who told us “how cute” we were, all huddled around the fire, almost incredulous at our good fortune.  Apparently, enjoying the hospitality of proffered foods is as adorable as it gets for 23-year-old guys.

Although Cory did miss out on most of the experience due to his aforementioned ailment, we did pass along some of our host’s benevolence in the form of a slice of cake and two more sandwiches.  After all, isn’t that what Christmas is really all about?

For Today’s Snack

20 12 2008

Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.
-Jack Handey

Insubordinating Conjectures

18 12 2008

Different cultures lend themselves to different approaches in nearly every facet of life.  When it comes to children, this is especially noticeable.  Everything from the value of free time to notions of discipline are starkly contrasted between parents of different backgrounds, and it isn’t uncommon for me to notice my own shortfalls because of this contrast.  I used to take pride in my accomplishments of childhood, but many of the kids I see on a daily basis are somewhat listlessly doing what I used to only just accomplish with both fervor and exertion.

Yesterday, an 8th grade student was loudly and publicly reprimanded for failing to go to one of her instructor’s offices after being called.  Having received my fair share of spankings and lectures as a kid, I am not one to criticize the effect of apparently harsh discipline on kids.  (perhaps I should be the first to be critical of it, says Micah in my head.)  However, it wasn’t simply the discipline that bugged me.  It was the fact that this student was one of the most sedulous kids I’ve ever met.  Last week, she began ranting to me about one of her peers (whom, coincidentally, she was defending from taunts immediately before getting in trouble) who had called her “too serious” because of her penchant for working harder than most people on her assignments.  This girl then went on to describe the insidious nature of laziness to me.  College, she said, is already ridiculously hard; if she doesn’t start taking her schoolwork seriously now, she may find it too late to restructure her work ethic upon her first day at Stanford.

Hopefully, that paints something akin to my impression of this kid.  So, when I hear her being chewed out for not coming when called, I viscerally detest every word.  Here is someone who, naively or not, gets it. Why not stay at least somewhat composed before lecturing her more discreetly later on?  Even more than that, does it not occur to this lady that her student might take such a reprimand far worse than those who are accustomed to being in trouble?  Someone who spends nearly every waking moment to satisfy requirements and achieve long-term goals will maybe, just maybe, be a little more sensitive to being made an example of in front of her largely lesser peers than one of your frequently churlish peers.

As I’m already far beyond the boundaries of coherent paragraph-structure, I’ll throw in a paraphrase of Trumpkin:  If children are treated like incorrigible fools, how can you expect them to become something better?  I have always tried to treat kids like adults (to a reasonable degree, mind) whenever possible; seeing them cowed like idiots is infuriating.  Certainly, one must have a firm hand with children so as to correct their behavior, even if the child is a “good” one, but I can’t abide sinking to the level of a frothing taskmaster when dealing with 14 year-olds.

(When my children grow up to be serial killers, you can throw this back in my face.)

Perhaps it’s not to be this year

14 12 2008

With Apologies To Randall

12 12 2008

Blast you, Clevinger.