December 13, 2003

I haven't blogged in a while.

That's pretty much all the explanation that's needed.


School is effectively over. I have no more classes, all my final projects and papers and what-have-yous are over and done with, the only thing keeping me in the Big Apple, (scholastically, anyway) is a final I have next week for Conversations of the West, my one and only paper-and-pencil final.

All the snow has melted. It is, for all intents and purposes, mid-November all over again, except it's colder and there are more Christmas decorations. This is a good thing and a bad thing. Admittedly, snow is a hassle. But it makes things feel winter-ish. There's a difference between winter-ish and simply cold. Cold you just want to get the fuck inside. Winter-ish, you still want to get the fuck inside but once there you want to gaze wistfully at the wonderland outside from where you are perched safely with a cup of something warm while the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack plays. Right now it's cold. Tomorrow, after the snow they're predicting, it will once again be winter-ish.

(Remind me how I've declared my affection for all things snowy when I complain about having tromped through my fiftieth dirty snow-melt puddle where the sidewalk meets the street. Or in Februrary, when I'm locked in my room, huddled next to the radiator, clutching a tacky postcard with a cactus on it and weeping softly.)


Some people do not go to college in New York City.

Some people go to East Coast colleges with ancient ivy-shrouded campuses centered around expansive quads, with Main buildings and Student Unions, and house parties with kegs.

Last weekend, my darling improv troupe and I visited some of them, at Vassar, a school my familiarity with which previously extended only to a slight on the Simpsons.

I've had enough of your Vassar-bashing, young lady! Classic.


Oh, PS, if my sentence-structure acrobatics are more ambitious and less successful than usual, blame the lateness of the hour and fact that I'm writing to music, which I never do. But the new Shins record is so. Fucking. Good. If you like your Rock with a side of artful lyricism (Sir Thomas More references? Yes please!) or vice versa, I highly recommends it.


Anyway:

We, this wonderful wonderful improv troupe and I, trudged through the snowstorm to Astor Place, caught a subway to Grand Central Station to get a train to scenic Poughkeepsie, NY, upstate.

Erik, the group's resident ScandinAsian (University rules state that all improvisational comedy groups must have at least one Orient-Norse hybrid. I don't make the rules, I just make them up.) was always going to be late for the train, and had agreed to meet us there. Problem was, somewhere along the line, people's definitions of just where "there" was got confused and he ended up at Penn Station, which is definitely, scientifically, thoroughly not Grand Central Station. You don't need a four-month NYC resident with a severely limited knowledge of his surroundings who compensates by pretending to be a veteran urbanite to tell you that. No, sir. Penn Station ain't no Grand Central. There were lots of cab-rides on his part, peering pensively down the platform on our part, and frantic cell phone calls on both ends. Yet just as the alarm was sounding and the lights were flashing and the doors were about to close, he appeared at the top of the stairs and hopped aboard. (Disappointingly, they seem to have done away with the steam-emitting whistles, like you see in the cartoons.)


Diminutive. Asian. Clutch in a do-or-die situation. Absolutely no coincidence he was Short Round for Halloween. (At my suggestion. Rock.)


Observation: Trains smell like stale vomit and death.

Between that and the lack of cartoonish steam-whistles, clearly the Golden Age of genteel rail travel is over.

It was only two hours.

The snow followed us into Poughkeepsie, hub of international affairs. Or maybe it had been there all along. The fact that all but a few cabs had stopped running and at the train station we had to hop into what the drivers said were the last two available that night indicated the latter. We were driven, packed like wisecracking sardines, me looking out the windows, remembering shopping centers and offramps, to the Main Building of Vassar.

And what a Main Building. Old. Impressive. Academic. Looks like the Pilgrims carved it out of the living rock and sent their children inside to learn shit. Either made me want to go to a classy East Coast school like this, or just watch Dead Poet's Society. Not sure which.

We met up with Second Ben, another member of our troupe and Vassar-connection-by-way-of-girlfriend. We noted their Student Union cafeteria's resemblance to a Saved By The Bell set. We ate Vassar food and discussed sexual practices as disgusting as they are hilariously named, killing time 'till our eight o'clock performance slot opening up for Vassar's improv troupe (the aptly titled Vassar Improv Troupe).

We kicked it long-form-improv-comedy style in The Mug, the subterranean bar in the main building. Apparently there's nothing else to do in Poughkeepsie on a snowy Saturday night, the crowd was lined up a half an hour before the show, and once they were let in, they packed the tiny musty room to the gills, forties in hand and ready to laugh. God bless you, sweet pre-gamed Vassar crowd. You made one of our worst shows one of my personal favorites with your sheer willingness to laugh at crap. Much love.

Then we watched Vassar Improv do their short-form thing. They did it well. Then we danced to "Hey Ya" in a show of improv solidarity. Then we schmoozed.

We were driven by members of Vassar's troupe to one of their houses, where there were promises of lodging, and more importantly, a keg. (College students with cars. And houses. Oh, brave new world.) It was college like you see in the movies: The Christmas lights, the novelty posters masquerading as interior decoration, the mattress someone used to slide down the stairs which has now been sitting at the bottom for several months, apparently. Dudes with names like Fernie and Berg. Gratuitous facial hair. I did everything I could not to run out into the snow shaking my fists shouting "Delta HOUUUSSSE!"

Everyone who goes to Vassar knows someone who goes to NYU. The best ones realize, even drunkenly, that you don't care, and refrain from telling you. The even-better ones are twenty-two year old PoliSci majors and when you can't find a room upstairs to make out in they drag you across a snowy field to their house.

Whether it be the artsy-fartsy metropolitan kind or the more traditional snowbound campus-having variety, one thing is clear: College is awesome.

Posted by DC at December 13, 2003 07:50 PM
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