Saturday, May 31, 2008


About fifteen minutes after I woke up this morning there was a knock on my door. I thought I had heard my landlord's voice earlier so perhaps there was some emergency he was going around to warn the tenants about. I open the door and did not see my landlord. "I take it you are the king of this castle?" It was some kid who I would guess might be 16 or so. He was incredibly obnoxious. He kept bouncing around telling me I can help him get enough points to win a thousand bucks to go towards a trip to some mystery location. He wouldn't say where at first, but he gave me a hint: "You can't drink the water but you don't want to down the worm if you know what I mean." He confused my flat affect with ignorance as I told him to cut to the chase. But no, he wanted me to read the question written in the red box on the card he was carrying around. As I closed the door on him, he thanked me in a way that tried to make it seem like I was the asshole in the dialogue. That kid was lucky that I was already awake, because if he had woken me up he would be trying to avoid sucking up the worm with his straw.

What astounded me about the whole interaction was the extreme level of confidence demonstrated by this kid. I'm not envious, as this little exercise shows that there is an upper limit where too much confidence makes you really annoying, but I am aware that the highest level of confidence I have ever demonstrated has certainly paled in comparison. Yes, there have been instances where I have demonstrated cajones, but those were more in response to some sort of adrenaline rush or some other breaking point. I visualize confidence as sauntering, not barging in guns blazing.

One of my pet peeves when I talk to people about my job is the initial response that I get 90% of the time. "I'm the manager at a bowling center." "Oh, I suck at bowling." Usually this conversation takes place in singles chat rooms (shut up) and it certainly takes the flirtiness out of the situation. I realize that they might think they are being self-deprecating, but that would be like me responding to a guy saying "I'm in real estate" with "Oh, I suck at selling houses." To me, it's a confidence issue. I would be much more comfortable with a guy that said "I don't like bowling" than someone who immediately discounts their abilities.

It's a bit strange talking about this topic. I felt so confident leaving high school and Oberlin did a fantastic job of destroying any and all confidence I had built up in myself. It is only recently that I have finally felt like I have been coming into my own. I've been out of school for 3 years: that's a long time. Don't worry: at this pace I will be like that kid when I'm in my seventies. I'm fairly confident in that estimation.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008


I'm a little late getting out the post-reunion post. My excuse is that reunion weekend caught up with me on Tuesday and I'm still trying to revive.

I inadvertently scheduled myself for nine hours on Friday. Oops. When I got home I thought about just vegging out as preparation for the weekend but then the Mazurs invited me over for an impromptu barbecue. Part of the refreshments included a combination of leftover margarita mix and leftover tequila, though the proportions favored the alcohol instead of the mix. Did I mention that I adore tequila?

We played some bocce and Wii (I beat Brian in Smash!) and then I got a call from Zaldonis. Yay! Turns out he was staying with a friend who lives in another section in my building so I headed over there after dropping off some stuff at my place. It was great catching up with John and Kayla and meeting some new people talking about Oberlin, New York, and things in between. Staying up until 2 might not have been the wisest course of action with an alumni bowling tournament starting at 10am.

The turnout for the Funraiser was much higher than anticipated, even with the RSVP's from a Facebook invite. We actually had to turn people away, which was unfortunate. But I got to bowl with Clare, Meghan, and Colin and schmooze with quite a few other alums. Unfortunately, despite our camaraderie, we were not able to scrounge up enough pins to beat the current students. We'll get them next year. Afterwards we headed to Tom's house for picnicking, croquet, and cornhole. After spending almost the entire day at Tom's, I met up with Clare, Anna and Anna's boyfriend at Toooooooooo Chi-noise for dinner. We had a lovely meal and eventually made our way to South, which was the headquarters for the 5 Year Reunion. So many people!

I had to oil the lanes on Sunday and treated the afternoon as a rest period before heading out to meet Sarah on Tappan Square. We were to meet John and his crew for dinner but everything was packed. We eventually got a table at Lorenzo's and had a pretty good meal. Illumination had finished setting up as we ate, so Sarah and I wandered Tappan Square a bit until I got a call from the lanes. An emergency came up and I had to close, which put a damper on my evening.

Commencement went well. Sarah and I skipped out on most of the talking, opting to go to Feve brunch instead. We did get back in time for Fareed Zakaria's speech which was pretty good. Then people graduated. It's a little weird now: this class was the last class of students who were students while I was a student. Except for the few people on the 5+ year plan, there aren't any "peers" remaining in the student body. I'm not saying that in an elitist way, but now the students I know I met through my manager position. Eeek.

After the ceremony, Sarah and I got lunch, browsed downtown, played some Wii, then headed to the Union Street house to say "so long" to the fellas. "So long" includes GTAIV, Red Wings hockey, double entendres, and microwaving light bulbs (among other things). I'll miss those guys.

So now it's summer, I guess. Work is in a transition period and things are really quiet on campus. As for me, I met my initial weight loss goal for this year, which was to get down to or below 205 pounds (my weight at the end of Freshman year) and I now tip the scales at 195. I know! I'm using this week as the benchmark to try to lose 10% (thanks, Jenny Craig commercials) before Labor Day, which would put me at 176 pounds. Considering I've been rather lazy these past couple of weeks and have not suffered any negative consequences yet, I think once I get back into an exercise routine I should be able to meet that goal.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008


I love board games, but there are a few out there that make me uncomfortable. When I visited Amanda in Chicago a few years ago we stopped by FAO Schwarz where I saw the following:


I wish I could have found a good photo of the box. This game, much like its predecessor, requires precise movement to extract all the wacky objects implanted in your patient. It's like an episode of House. Unlike Operation Original Recipe, rather than tweezers you just stick your hand INTO THE HEAD OF YOUR PATIENT. Unsanitary. Also, one misstep and the nose lights up and your patient will squeal "Ooooooo! That tickles!" Ick.

The other game that causes great concern is called Don't Wake Daddy. I have not played this game, but I remember the commercial:

Let's discuss. First, there are a lot of obstacles en route to the fridge. That seems dangerous, regardless of time of day. Also, if daddy happens to awaken, he seems more like he is recovering from a night terror rather than being inconvenienced by his clumsy, clumsy children. Also, the way he shoots up is apparently physically impossible. And let's not forget the implications of child abuse that make the game FUN!

They have updated the game though. I was at Target tonight and walked past the endcaps in the toy department. Mostly it was Indiana Jones branded toys, but one endcap actually made me stop and look again. For 2008: Don't Wake the Hulk! That actually seems more realistic.

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Monday, May 12, 2008


I have yet to give any money to Oberlin since changing my membership status from "student" to "alum" 3 years ago. It's not like I haven't tried: I filled out the "Donate my matriculation deposit" paperwork completely the day it arrived in my OCMR yet the school still sent me my check. I certainly can afford to give but I feel no guilt about my current miserly ways. I figure I am already making a contribution by working for the school (as a wage slave, no less) and actually keeping one of the few profitable parts of the campus up and running and, dare I say, more profitable. I've actually tried explaining this logic to the student fundraisers (leaving out the profits part) but it seems to fall on deaf ears. Whatever.

Today I received a troubling e-mail. Here is how it began:

Dear Michael,

Hello, fellow classmates! I hope that this letter finds you well. I am not the most articulate when writing these types of letters. And, like you, when I see a letter asking for money, I simply throw it into the recycle bin. This letter, however, is different. The purpose of this letter is not simply to ask you for money, rather it is a letter designed to evoke your emotions and thus make you want to give back to Oberlin College.

Don't you love it when a form letter tries, and fails, to seem all personalized? I do give it points for the "throw it into the recycle bin" part -- I usually throw mine in the trash. Save your tar and feathers, it gets better.

I was thinking about starting this letter with some type of antidotal story, but I was not able to think of one. Then, I was thinking that I would just quickly tell you about the many changes at Oberlin, but the reality is that things haven't changed much in the past two and half years. While Oberlin does have a new president, the student body is still liberal, and they are still trying to change the world one person at a time.

"Antidotal"? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! This person is trying to convince his fellow college graduates to donate money by using not just the wrong word but a word that Firefox is currently underlining with red? And Oberlin not changing that much in the last 2.5 years? Are you kidding me? There is a controversial new slogan, a couple new programs of study, new village housing with additional construction projects on the horizon, new scholarship and financial aid programs...none of these are worth highlighting?

He goes on to talk about the alumni website, which is a helpful resource from the various "antidotes" I've heard from others. But then:

While some of these options may not interest you, or you might be like me and want to do more, you can also give back with a monetary donation. The amount you donate does not matter because, like you, I know that things are financially hard being a recent grad. Nevertheless, I have decided to give back to Oberlin yearly because I want current students to have at least the same, if not better, experience that I had while at Oberlin. Furthermore, donating to Oberlin helps increase alumni participation rates. This is important not only for national ranking in U.S. News and World Report, but also for grant funding, which most ask for participation rates.

Besides the dubious politics of the U.S. News and World Report rankings, that seems like a pretty lousy reason to donate to the school. I would much rather my (currently hypothetical) donation go towards developing something more positive than elitism.

He concludes with:

I challenge you to walk with me in the pursuit of bringing Oberlin to the next level. If you have any questions, comments, or intelligent thoughts, then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Whenever I hear the phrase "bring [blah] to the next level", I immediately think of America's Next Top Model, where that phrase loosely translates to "we're dying your hair blonde." I don't think Oberlin would look good as a blonde -- it's more of a brunette.

As for intelligent thoughts: PROOFREAD.

Then I read the signature and busted out laughing. Apparently our '05 alumni shill happens to be a person who holds the distinction of saying one of the stupidest things I have ever heard in my time at Oberlin (7 years and counting). It was sophomore year in Dawson's Intro to Government class. A bunch of students were up in arms over some auxiliary staff getting sacked (this was when the College's financial future started looking gloomy). They wanted us to donate the class treasury (money collected from people who showed up late to class) to help out the recently jobless. This person made the argument that we should help them pay their cable bill, to which I asked "if times are tight, why not get rid of the cable?" His response: "But there are a lot of good shows..." We ended up donating the money to a recovering cancer patient. The alumni fund was not proposed.

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