My first day on the ukulele


Why do you haunt me, MTV?

mtothetvWhen I lived in Temperance House (1205 Park St went by many names, even while I was at Grinnell, but that’s what it will always be to me) I had exactly two (2) transcendent experiences involving the television network Music TeleVision. Well, transcendent may not be the word, but these are vivid memories that I haven’t ever found any reference to anywhere on the great internet collaboration. And yet, millions of people (or at the very least, thousands) must have had these very same experiences. Am I crazy? Did they really happen? Does it even matter to me given the experience I lived?

The first (by memory and importance, but not chronology; the internet tells me that this was the early hours of April 26, 2002) seems the most hallucinatory. I was up at 2AM watching music videos. Please don’t judge me; anyone but the most novice knows that MTV only plays blocks of actual music videos from 2AM to 3:30AM. So, I was watching a video in a nonchalant way as usual, and text started scrolling across the screen. It said LISA LOPES IS STILL DEAD. I thought I might be in a zombie movie. I was confused and not but a little terrified. I hope it is 2AM when you are reading this, so that you might have the same inkling of fear. Is my television trying to send me a message? Has it finally achieved the sentience I always held out expectations for? I had no idea. I didn’t move an inch, but inside I was freaking out. Confused and alone, I tried to collect myself. When I finally did, text scrolled again. An announcement that Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes of TLC had died in a car accident in Mexico. I didn’t know who this was, but I was strangely relieved. The TV had not failed me or fooled me. It had been right all along. And yet.

The second was week-long. One specific week; it’s probably the only memory I have of Grinnell that I can place to a specific week on our Gregorian calendar without needing to look something up. September 12-16, 2001. MTV played only music videos 24 hours a day. And not just any videos were these, no. They were violence free. Loving, even. If this had gone on for an infinite period of time, it would have been the greatest television network ever produced by anyone in the past, present, or future. There were no commercials, only a news update at 50 past the hour. There must be other people in the world who agree with me that this happened, right? It feels so ephemeral and yet so real. Sometimes I dream about watching it, and when I wake up I am reminded that all there is is drek on MTV when there could be sublime hopeful bliss. And I am sad.

If anyone has memory of either of these occurrences, please let me know. Also, if you lived with me in Temperance House that year, I miss you. I miss you more than I miss that soothing collection of art and sound.

The internet sums everything up.

This is true but I wish it weren’t.

What to Do in Ocean City, Maryland

Two weeks ago a bunch of friends and I stayed the long weekend at a family condo on the beach in Ocean City. It was a great time and I hope to do it again soon!

You can see pictures here. For example:

Kite Flying on the Beach

Kite Flying on the Beach

I’ve been going to Ocean City every year since I was a very young one and so I have some “traditional” activities that I enjoy. We did some of them but it wasn’t as long a weekend as it could have been, so I didn’t get the opportunity to introduce the group to some of the others.

So first I’m going to list a few we did partake of:

Milkshakes at Dumser’s Dairyland. The best milkshakes I have ever tasted, and you can get them right down on the boardwalk. The to-go shakes are not very big and I think that’s part of the secret: keep you wanting more. The chocolate banana is highly recommended.

Flying Kites on the Beach. I am a huge fan of kite flying but there are very few places around that you can do it in Maryland! The beach is a safe space for kite flying. It’s always windy and open and there are plenty of other people around who will enjoy the view.

Renting Jetskis. This is the first time I went ahead and did this with my brother and a friend. It is quite exhilarating and freeing. The price is a little high (we paid $80) but if you go in with a friend you can ride together!

The Outlets I didn’t go to the outlets this year, but I will probably go later this summer. I usually get a new pair of shoes and whatever else I need all at once. It’s very nice when you only have to shop once a year.

We didn’t do some of my other traditional activities:

Gummi Octopi From Candy Kitchen, the perfect compromise between gummi worms and gummi bears. You can pull the legs off one at a time or go whole hog and feel them swishing around in your mouth.

PLAYLAND on the boardwalk. Every year we used to get 10 dollars to spend in the arcade there. My favorite is Silent Scope, the sniper game. I used to spend $5 on it every year but now I’ve gotten so good that I only need $2 to beat the thing.

Parasailing Though it seems daunting, this is the most relaxing and carefree activity you can partake of. Essentially you’re floating along in a slight breeze, everything is quiet and calm and there is no one to bug you (unless you go tandem) and the view is spectacular. Everyone, even the most skittish, should try it once.

Harrison’s Harbor Watch Restaurant It’s a little expensive and there can be a wait but it’s generally worth it: great seafood and almost every table has a wonderful view of the harbor. Some nights you can watch the seagulls drift along the channel; when they get to one end, they just fly to the beginning and drift again!

Assateague Island This one is for the nature-lovers. We all know Ocean City is anything but natural, but if you just head south a little bit and cross a few bridges you’ll get to a beach that is. And of course, if you are lucky, you might get to see the famous ponies!

These are the things I like to do, but I’m sure there are plenty of things I haven’t discovered. What do you like to do in OC?

Weekend Update: “I’m Gregorus, and You’re Not”

I posted my weekend details on my plan but I thought I’d share them here too:

This has been kind of a crazy weekend, but I think that might be a good thing. I stayed late at work so as not to pay for parking and ended up playing a board game with a coworker at a fast food mexican restaurant.

Then I went straight to my brother’s house without changing out of my work clothes, didn’t get there until 9, then stayed up until 4 in the morning drinking and playing board games and card games and Smash Bros. over there. Which was a good thing!

Why it’s a good thing, I’ll get to. I crashed at his place (actually my parents’ place, they’re at the beach celebrating their 29th anniversary) and woke up at 2:30 PM. This is also part of the good thing. I went home and got cleaned up, put on my Lion’s club shirt and went to what I had signed up for: managing parking at relay for life. And yet, I wanted to go to my cousins graduation party! So I asked the King Lion if they really needed me and he said no so I went to the party (after hanging out with the pending District Governor in our tent). At family parties, we always play board games (are you sensing a trend?) and I bring a bunch so that we can do it. I bought my cousin a card on the way there and drove the hour and 15 minutes to their place in Western Maryland. Cool party!

I enjoyed that, we played games, we laughed, I walked with my two preteen cousins around town. They talked to their friends on my cell phone until my (admittedly paltry) battery died. I stayed up playing one of the more complicated games with the graduate until 11pm. We said our goodbyes and I drove the hour back to relay for life. I was assigned to walk from 1 AM to 3 AM (THE GOOD THING RETURNS). I’d only been up 11 hours so I wasn’t tired. I actually started walking at 12:30 and kept it up ’til 3:08 to be sociable with the people going before and after me.

I came home and slept. And got up at 11 and called another friend and she just called me back and we’re going to hang out at her place in Virginia with another group of friends that I’ve made. She likes board games so we’ll see if that happens. My aim is to have played Dominion with 4 different groups of people this weekend. And I still have unset board game plans with two other people. So it’s all good and it’s very busy.

The whole weekend I’ve been dealing with this tightness/pain in my chest, though. It feels like I’m having a mild heart attack, but I’m totally not. I’ve been to three doctors and they all just essentially said “whatever, you’re fine” and sent me on my way. So I’ll just give it another week or two. I think it might just be neuropathy or bruising or something from holding my phone to my shoulder with my cheek at work. Or it could be something with my arm artery, but the doctors say probably not so whatever.

I only have had one meal since Saturday morning (of potato salad, bread, and 3 brownies) so I should probably eat. But first I’m going to finish making this facebook “how well do you know me?” quiz, I think.

The Final Score

This afternoon I accompanied some fine friends including my brother to prove our meddle at bar trivia. This was not just any trivia, though. Oh, no. This was a battle of wits against the fiercest competitors we had ever seen for the largest prize we had ever played for. It was our chance to grab the golden bull by the horns.no_baseball1

A little bit of background: for a few years I’ve been a big fan of Final Score Trivia Maryland. Most of their games are played in the Baltimore area so I don’t get out to them much, but when I heard they were doing a location a little closer by, I was up for it. To sweeten the pot, they were doing a $100 grand prize for the winner since it was the first time at the new location. I e-mailed the crew and they responded. Fiercely.

The location: Buffalo Wings & Beer off of Randolph Road in Rockville. I had never been there before but the service was very excellent and the food was good. The owner was there to greet us and to wish us farewell.

When we started at 7:30, little did we know what we were in for. We went in with the team name “Do you like fish sticks?” Question after question came at us like a starving polar bear stalking its prey, but we held our own. The half-time question: Name the top four countries by population that start with the letter “P.” We got three. Damn Portugal. At half-time we were in third place.

We swept the next two rounds and nearly swept the third. We were on fire. For the final round, you can bet up to 20 points. The scores were announced: we were in FIRST PLACE by 13! We had 69 points, the only teams that could catch us had 57, 54, and 53. YES!

The category was announced: baseball. We hooted and hollered and hung our heads dejectedly. Baseball?!!

Now, let me tell you this: if the game is played how it used to be played, there is only one sports final question per season (a season is 12 games). And this was it. Our first game and the game we have done the best ever in and this is the category we get. We had no idea and bet 0. With $100 on the line, we were so clueless we couldn’t do anything else. We counted on our substantial lead to carry us through.

It came down to the wire. They were about to announce the winner. The tension was palpable. It was either going to be us or “Mission Accomplished,” the team who had just won last seasons “trivia bowl.” They had had 54 points to our 69. Would we take it? Would our team reign supreme?

No!!!!!!!!!!!! They bet 20 and got it right! Baseball!! So frustrating!! EXCLAMATION POINTS! We got second place, ending up 69 to 74. So frustrating and sad. We left our $20 booby prize as a tip for the waitress and skulked away.


…but maybe, just maybe. Next week? We shall see. We. Shall. See.

I’d hate to see when her water breaks…


Today I happened to have my camera with me and I saw something strange (both of these are very uncommon occurrences). This water tower that I see nearly every day was wearing a dress. How dainty!