Wednesday, 23 April 2003

Freshman Year 1999-2001

This is supposed to be the toughest year of college, and in terms of intellectual growth that rings true. Although personal/social growth would also top this list if not for my Junior year. That comes later however.

I suppose I was a bit scared about going to college and living in an 8′ x 14′ room with someone I had never met before and sharing another room with two other people I had never met before. Actually, perhaps I was quite scared, or even terrified. Needless to say, my lifestyle was not suited to that of my roommates. I did not have a fake ID, nor did I drink. at all. I also liked my sleep, 8 hours if I could get it. My roommate Mike Lane and my other quadmates John Antonucci and Paul Buser were all business majors, whilst I was an Arts & Letters major. Business majors have it easiest here at Notre Dame in regard to class difficulty and course work (with the possible exception of the Sociology Dept.) and they would often throw impromptu parties 2 or 3 times a week. On nights when they didn’t have parties they often went to the Boat Club and stumbled back usually at 5 in the morning. This happened pretty much the whole year.

On top of this, my roommate, who drank at least 5 times a week, and skipped most of his classes most of the time sleeping off the alcohol managed to swing a 4.0 his first semster, while I struggled with chemistry and calculus and got a 2.7.

As for the other freshmen in my section I was the only A&L major. 14 total freshmen, 3 pre-med, 1 engineering, 1 A&L, and 9 business majors. The upperclassmen consisted to a great majority of sophomores who were nice but had their own things to do, some juniors who I never even talked to, and a group of seniors who I owe quite a bit to.

The football games took a bit of getting used to, but here I knew what to do, hiding in plain sight covered in blue and gold body paint with a bright blue wig. The seats were in the corner as is usual for freshmen, but we were also the heart from whence all spirit was pumped. Bob Davie was the unfortunate coach at this time. He sucks. The tailgating before the games was not great fun however, drinking drinking drinking everywhere. Was there nothing else to do at ND?

I struggled with this, even to the point of considering a transfer to a state school where it was easier to get off campus, where many off campus places are geared toward the students and to where I wouldn’t feel as pressured to drink, and to where the gender relations would be something approaching normal for college students. Apparently, that didn’t happen – although perhaps it did in an alternate universe.

The seniors Jes s Morales, Liam Thidemann, and AJ Boyd, and my RA Joe Hyder had a great deal to do with pulling me out of my shell. There was this nasty concoction that the DH would serve about once every two weeks called Toad-In-The-Hole. I will not describe it suffice to say it was horrendous. Each time it was served I would smuggle out one more than the last time and present them to my RA in creative ways (ex: The Blair Toad Project). He had no idea who it was until someone snitched. But it was all in good fun. The seniors who deshelled me to some extent did so when one day Jes s noticed that I had a Magic deck. He also played. and from there it was downhill.

We started playing magic, which led to Starcraft, which led to me allowing them to set me up for the Chariot Race dance. Which led to me meeting Brian Johnsen. Which led me to meeting Brian Stone, who when I expressed an interest in learning to fence agreed to teach me to do so, as he was the assistant coach of the fencing team. So its a good thing I played Magic or I would be a totally different person today.

I also made a friend from out east named Abby. I met her through AIM and she came out to visit me on her spring break and I reciprocated once the school year ended. I last spoke with her during this last summer but perhaps she still reads this.

Other notable things that happened my freshman year: I saw the Smashing Pumpkins for the first time at Purdue University where I visited my friends Brian Rose, David Ledman, and Bo Ledman and met his soon to be wife Kerri. I lost my virginity. I learned what a glorious thing Stolichnaya vodka can be. I made friends with Meagan Call. I downloaded my first mp3 using Napster. I decided to be roommates in a double (glorious! more room!) with the lone engineer in the section, Mike Castorano. I successfully walked on to the Notre Dame Fencing Team. I ate at both Bibler’s Pancake House and CJ’s Pub in the same day.

Tuesday, 25 March 2003

National Champions

last tuesday i left for Colorado Springs, CO to support my teammates at the NCAA fencing championships. it was quite the trip. Those who drove were 4: Steve, Mad Dog, Matty, and myself. the first 18 hours of our drive out there were fine; until we arrived in Colorado amid the aftermath of one of their worst blizzards in years. I-70 was closed 12 miles into Colorado despite the fact that there was nary a snowflake on the ground. we detoured to CO-25 which was also closed. we detoured to CO-40, closed. we ended up going all the way to Pueblo and then drove north till we arrived in Colorado Springs. 8 miles south of Colorado Springs we finally saw some snow, by the next day most of it had melted.

we beat the team out there despite leaving after they did. they’re flight was laid over at St. Louis and the next day they had a connection in Houston before finally getting into Colorado. the tournament was supposed to start on Thursday and conclude on Sunday but since none of the teams could make it out on time they rescheduled and had a combined tournament lasting all day saturday and all day sunday. tough stuff with the altitude.

that left us with two full days to kill. since the Super 8 we were staying at was literally 30 feet from the Drury Inn where the rest of the team was, most of our time was spent over there goofing around, utilizing the hot tub, etc. Janusz was glad we were out there so we didn’t have to pay for our meals for most of the trip. we went to a bar one night, saw Chicago as a team and ate and ate and ate. the night before the tournament we had a team meeting and everyone got their goals.

the first day of competition was intense. our fencers dropped a few bouts here and there, and the directing was a bit trying at times, but by the end of the day we had a nice cushion in 1st place, although we still knew it was going to be quite close. the 2nd and final day was a rollercoaster of emotion the entire day. we were only up by one bout in the final round with Penn State right on our heels. we needed any combination of 3 ND wins or 3 PSU losses to secure the victory. we won. there was pandemonium. all of those clich s about winning and being a champion…are true when you really are one.

our AD Bernard took us to Carrabba’s an ber-nice Italian place in celebration. once we got back to the hotel a few folks went on an alcohol run and a bunch of us went to the bars. i like tequila shots. we played a few games of pool, just relaxed with our team and a few people from the other midwest teams. then we went back to the hotel, partied a bit more and hit the road home. (Mad Dog drove first, he hadn’t partaken because he is on antibiotics). 20 hours later we arrived in South Bend. exhausted but victorious.

i cannot speak, my voice is shot from yelling. i shot plenty of footage to make a sweetass video and took a ton of pictures. we are champions! i am a champion! w00t!

Tuesday, 18 March 2003

Politricks and Fencing Championships

at 6 this evening i’m driving out to Colorado Springs, CO and the USAFA for the NCAA fencing championships. It is about a 19 hour drive and at the end of it i still might not be able to watch my team compete for the championship. i had to submit my social security number, driver’s license number, etc. in order to get security clearance to get on the base. at all times i must have two forms of picture ID. but once the war starts not even that will get me on the base. i’m still going out dammit.

what a stupid ultimatum from Dubya. yeah like that is EVER going to happen. might as well require the impossible so we can start bombing on schedule. anything for the war. even if the ulty did work i’d still be creeped out because the US would be able to coerce a country into essentially giving up its sovereignty. jeebus.

what the internet needs is a bestiary of mythical beasts. and a good one at that. the only ones i’ve found have been crap. maybe i could start my own if i had some time. meagan will you draw the critters and creepy crawlies?

Trogdor the Arcade Game!

I’ll be back sometime next monday unless NORAD and the USAFA get nuked by Iraqis.

Monday, 17 March 2003

St. Patrick’s Day at Notre Dame

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! w00t! This is the only St. Patrick’s day that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing at Notre Dame. For some unbeknownst reason, ND usually arranges it so that March 17 is during Spring Break. Hypocritical that the premier Irish-Catholic university avoids celebrating said day? of course, ’tis to be expected. We can’t have the students of the Fighting Irish drinking and carousing now can we. Yes, i know the Irish (i.e. people in Ireland) don’t actually celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by covering themselves in green plaid and drinking green beer, but isn’t in keeping with American culture to bastardize other cultures to our own ends? Notre Dame was founded by the French but is now Irish… and we have even twisted the pronunciation of our Lady. whatever. its 65 outside, sunny, i ain’t got shit to do till next week and i’m a senior. things canna get much better. i’m gonna go find a bit o whiskey.

Sunday, 2 March 2003

No More Notre Dame Fencing

the greatest thing in my college life is now finished. i’m no longer a varsity athlete. i’m now a varsity alumnus.

to preface: there is this guy on our team, a pretty good ep eist, who could be so much better if he applied himself. unfortunately, he feels no need to come to practice or act as a teammate in any way since he is a scholarship recruit. apparently he told my captain that he is tired of fencing and that our coach cannot do anything about it if he chooses not to work hard. this team member also chooses not to stay with the team during competitions he is always off alone sleeping somewhere when the rest of us are fencing. the worst, however, is how he treats our opponents. he humiliates them by showing his complete and utter contempt in the form of grandstanding, blatantly obvious and intentional. he’ll squat on strip and stay there, or remain in a lunge, or after an easy touch against an opponent will yell ‘woo-hoo’ in a ‘you mean nothing to me’ kind of way.

so in the individual tournament i end up having to fence this guy in the direct elimination rounds. everyone wanted me to beat him, even our own teammates. especially since he doesn’t even respect us. i did my best, but lost 13-15. what is infuriating about that is, he is still good enough to beat me despite all the effort i put forth to fence well and the negligible amount he exerts. so endeth my collegiate fencing career. i was pissed i wanted to win so badly, and immediately after the bout i realized that it was all over. i’m sure it had been floating around subconsciously in my head but after it was done i had to hit the showers as quickly as possible to do a bit of crying. i can still do my bit to help the team, but any true tangible effect resulting from my actual fencing will never be again.

it was great while it lasted. and i hope the memories last much longer.

Saturday, 1 March 2003

Last Team Bout

The Midwest Championships were today and unfortunately ND came in 2nd. Alot of us fenced poorly. I only had one bout, but I won it. my last contribution to the team was a victory. I’m glad of that. Tomorrow is the Individuals, so I must fence for myself, which basically mean I won’t do as well, I’m not competitive in that way. it has been good while it has lasted. i’ve got much homework to do, I’d better get on it.