Justin's Blog

Monday, October 22, 2007


Whoa, it's been way too long.
I'm going to go through everything right now... the past two weekends, and fill you all in on what has been my best time yet at Chicago.

But first, a word from our sponsors.
Thanks to Aunt Liz, Grandma Komyanek, Mum, Norman, Jason, Rochelle, Ms. Hudson (you sent Rochelle... sort of), Dad, Stayce, Grandpa and Grandma Aschenbener, Uncle Ray, and last but certainly not least, Aunt Debbie. All you guys either came to family weekend, or sent these awesome care packages that currently make my refrigerator overflow (with muffins) and my food-shelf-thing look like a fat man after Thanksgiving Dinner (which I'm looking foward to, by the way).
And now, back to our programming...

I'm totally... tired. Not entirely sure why this is, but I think it's a culmination of the past week, and my dormitory. I'll first mention that living in a dormitory has it's advantages (like that food is fairly squared away and I have a sort of social life), but it comes with its disadvantages (the inability to sleep through a night (except under special circumstances), people walking past the door yelling random stuff at 2 a.m. (weeknight.), the fact that food is fairly squared away (it gets old.) and the inability to sleep through a night (except under special circumstances). So I just fell asleep in Regenstein's basement (called Buca Di Beppo by myself and a few people, due to the fact that it is, after all, the basement of the Joseph Regenstin basement) with my head on my scarf on a table for like, 45ish minutes. My room in the dormitory is right next to all of the elevator, the freight elevator, and the lounge... all three of which make noises like freight trains next to my room every random interval. Key word random. I know my body could get used to a scheduled interval... but this is too much. So now I'm toast at 7.31pm. And I've got to get back sometime soon! This sweet dude named "Wallace Goode" is going to be at our Study Break at Broadview Dormitory... he's an incredible guy and head of the university's community service bit.

But not until I fill you all in on what's been going on.

All right. So last weekend was the trip to the Dunes, which was spectacular... I was so thankful to be able to get out of the city and into a place with trees, and dirt and plants and fresh fresh air. The dunes were spectacular themselves, too. I'd never actually seen any dunes, before. They're basically piles of sand. Yeah, sort of like "whatever", but they're still cool. And they make for some pretty hardcore hiking trails that wind even college students who seem to walk for a living. Cece and I left early on Saturday morning (well... earlyish. 8.17am train) and took the Metra 40ish minutes southeast to Chesterton, IN. This was cool. We packed a lunch and had breakfast out of our hands (granola), and had some conversation and took pictures. I went in with a major longing for nature, and came out with a major love for nature and an urge to wear clothes from L.L. Bean. OH. We also came out with a little more than we bargained for.

So we were walking back to the Metra from the park... and just random talking and stuff, and I look down. And hey! What do you know?!?!? It's $1,000! Covered in red paint and looking a little charred, like it had been burned. Naturally, I picked it up. We sort of rambled for a minute or two about like "Oh. Cool.... we just found a thousand dollars." Neither of us is really "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" about money of any amount... I think we would've had the same reaction to finding a 20 on the ground. Well. I flipped through it after a minute or two, to find that the entire left side of the bill-stack thing had been cut out and hollowed... and a black box with some circuitry that looked suspiciously like a detonator was inside! Coool. So at that point, I said "Oh. This looks like a bomb." and dropped the money. And we kept walking. Just like that.

We were looking forward to getting cheeseburgers at Bennigan's downtown. I ended up getting a John Bacon burger... decent, but not spectacular.

Ah, yes. and for all you English teachers reading this... you'd probably be stoked about this one. It happened to be that the day we went to the park was the annual "State Storytelling Festival" for Indiana, and it was being held at the Dunes State Park! Naturally, wanting to be more like Mr. Lackey (I don't know why.... I'm starting to understand you a little more, sir. I never understood why you liked the outdoors so much... but I'm getting closer), we went to the festival. Sort of anticlimatic. LIke all the stories told there. I think the coolest one was a story about.... um.... some guys goat pet goat. Ask me to tell some of the stories next time we meet, everyone! They had the worst endings, but it was still really cool. And I got to drink water from INDIANA instead of Chicago... I don't like Chicago public water... makes my mouth feel wrong.

All right. As far as I can remember, the week was uninteresting.
Oh. Except for Tuesday, which was the releast of The Alchemy Index. This is the most spectacular CD you will hear in a long time. For me, it involved an unsuccessful 12-block-there-and-back hike to the Borders that turned out to be only 2 blocks away and to determine that they were sold out of the 4 copies they had in store.

Friday was spectacular, though. After grocery shopping and buying a pizza, we got back to the dormitory and cooked the thing (it was awesome). We also watched Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Pretty good movie... even the fourth time. Probably can't watch it again (well... maybe one more time, for a special occasion).

And then... the time had come. I took the Metra downtown and then the 151 to Union Station... and I PICKED ROCHELLE UP FROM UNION STATION TO SPEND THE WEEKEND!!!!!! I can't say how wonderful this was. We got back at like, 12.30am, and went to sleep. Well, tried to. The people in the lounge were watching Family Guy with the door wide open until like, 4am, so I couldn't fall asleep for any bit of my life. Seriously-I'd closed the lounge door earlier in the evening... and they go and reopen it. Thanks a lot, kids.
Saturday was amazing, as well! I got to see Mum and Norman, who came into town at maybe 10ish (I think). They also brought the first round of STUFF (from PEOPLE). I can't close the door to my dorm room now, I've got so many muffins. But each and every one of them will be good, no doubt. And I got my winter coat (ah... finally... sherpa-lined denim from L.L.Bean. I like this.) and sweaters (!!!!). After this, Grandpa, Dad, and Jason rolled on in, which was pretty cool. Here begins round TWO of STUFF from more PEOPLE. Good stuff. By this point, I was piling stuff up in the shower. I actually have muffins in the light fixture on the ceiling. Muffin KING. So we hung out the rest of the day with Dad and Grandpa, hearing about their travels, until it came to leave for the concert! Thrice and Brand New and a really odd band (they tried....... maybe a little too hard) called MeWithoutYou. We went with another cool person I've met in my travels here named Niamh, and her friend. Thrice was amazing... albeit ridiculously loud. It was Rochelle's first real rock concert, so it was cool to see her reaction to this. The ground seriously shook when Thrice played. It was so cool to hear them play not only new stuff, but also a bunch of the old songs that I didn't expect at all. Really cool. I've got loads and loads of respect for these guys, because they try to push the envelope even onstage, where for one song, the lead man was singing into a walkie talkie to get a special effect. And it worked (fairly well). Props. But Brand New was totally amazing. I mean, they blew me away. They know how to play a show. Their lighting wasn't spastic at all, but simple natural lighting. No colored lights... just a sort of soft off-white color, and it often looked like those cool lazy fireworks in the city firework show on the Fourth of July that sort of just make a couple of rings and crackles and then go out. Yeah. I prefer Thrice's music by a long shot, but Brand New knows how to play a concert.

Sunday... A brief, stolen breakfast at the Family Weekend reception collapsed into a series of goodbyes (oh... I got all my clothes from home at this point) and "I'll see you in two weeks" (hint to everyone). Then, the day collapsed into a load of homework and Church. Which was cool.

Oh, and I did all of this with Rochelle. Which was the best thing I can remember in a long time.
And she's coming again this weekend! And then.... I'll see her the weekend after!

This morning was the parting, and the two of us took the X28 bus downtown so that she could catch the Megabus by 8.45am (wow... that was 12 hours ago, now.) and get home. This was her fall break after midterms (lucky... I don't get like, any breaks). Hopefully, she spent a bunch of her evening with her mum and will be spending most of tomorrow with her. Shoutout here to Ms. Hudson. You've got to come to Chicago, too! I made it back just in time to get into physics class, and start my day.

Ah. So now the extraneous stuff that most of you can simply skip. I'll put it here for the people who care, though. I'm going to start skateboarding! It might be cool, and I think I could get places a little faster. This means... skate shoes. Sweet. No idea why I'm so stoked on this, but whatever. So this next weekend, Rochelle and I might go downtown to look at some... and maybe to the Gap for jeans. The buttonflap jean excursion of a couple weeks ago turned up short (and online, I found a pair.... out of stock!).

All right... Peace out.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's been a week, but it feels like an age.

I can't tell you all how great a conversion of feeling I've had in the past week. Yeah... a little too archetypical "bloggy" material for this bit... whatever. I have a serious urge to do manual labor. Like... rake leaves. Plant a tree. Mulch a bed. Build a fence. It's so odd, because I never expected that I would miss it this much. I miss driving around, and having the greatest state parks so near. A week ago (wow... that was a fast week, and so absolute), a group of us went downtown, and had dinner at Bubba Gump Shimp Co. While the food was quite good, I think I ate too much of it, or it was too much grease. The rest of the time downtown, I walked around feeling way over-full. On the walk back to the bus, I realized how terrible the air was, here. Honestly-you have your choice: Bus exhaust, Car exhaust, or Human exhaust. There isn't EVER a period where you'll get even a pocket of fresh air. I grew really annoyed with this. That, and I grew myself a longing for a clear horizon with no buildings. So we conceived that we would leave this place, and go somewhere natural. So tomorrow, Cece and I are taking a much needed trip to a place in Indiana called Dune Park... you can check it out, if you like. A simple Google is all it'll take. The Metra takes one practically there. So we should be leaving on the 8.14am train, and returning on either the 9.17 or 7.17pm train. Pack a lunch, walk into Chesterton for dinner... We're both so excited, and seriously need this trip. I'll post pictures and such probably on Monday.

The picture is of Thrice, my band of choice... They put their WHOLE new CD on their myspace page, 5 days before it comes out in stores. I'm completely amazed by it. I know that I'll be getting hours and hours and hours of good time out of this one... myspace.com/thrice. The first six tracks are from the "Fire" disc... they're pretty heavy. The second six, most of you would probably like. They're from "Water". I'm pretty sure I explained the entire concept album bit in a previous entry. Look it up, kids.

I got my first visitors!!!!!!!!
Bundles of thanks to Ashley Crish and Mark Lefebvre, who called me on CONSECUTIVE DAYS last weekend, telling me that they were in Chicago. Ashley came the same fateful night as Bubba Gump, but I saw her before the meal. So I was in considerably better spirits, and it was wonderful to see her. Looks and sounds like St. Mary's is a great place for her.
Mark came the day after... It was both ironic and cool that he and his friends were visiting the Museum of Science and Industry... across from where I live! I met him on the lawn in front of the place. We sat in my room for awhile, just talking about life, liberty, and education... things are a lot different at Purdue. A lot more structured, and a lot less "free". At Chicago, people give homework and set the kids free... it sounds like at Purdue, this is not the case, and people work a lot together and such.

All right, guys... That's all for now, but I'll be updating in a day or two.

Oh. And I'm pretty stoked for Family Weekend, next weekend. That'll be a good post.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Been a week.

Yep. It's certainly been a week...

Totally ridiculous. And right now, I'm just thankful that I've hooked up my external hard drive... Now I can successfuly backup my computer... as well as access my own personal archives of the musics. That includes the Relient K I'm currently digging.

First, the academic updates. It's intense. Perhaps it's just that I've had a sort of tumultuous weekend, but I'm rather surprised how it's going. "Calculus" is not calculus at all, but rather an experimental teaching course that involves three teachers for the class, none of who actually teach. This class will break me. "Mind" is pretty good. The lecture period on Tuesdays (like today) has been consistently entertaining. It's full of optical illusions that reveal a lot of facts about the brain and perception. Pretty good stuff. I can't really make too many judgements about the Thursday course yet, because we have had only one session, nearly all of which was comprised of answers to the question "Why do we have two words for 'brain' and 'mind'?". "Philosophical Perspectives on the Humanities" involves the warring of interesting stuff like Homer's The Iliad and a sweltering room that smells like a locker room. Not easy to stay awake in those conditions, no matter the intellectual material. Finally, "Honors Physics" is pretty cool. We're starting backwards, and learning first about Special Relativity (a correct theory) and getting to derive Newton's laws (incorrect theories). I actually felt sort of on top of things during today's discussion period. They must be getting lazy. Tons of work to do.

Next, the "life" updates. Huh. I've made some remarkable friends, but there's one in particular with whom you all may want to make yourselves familiar, as she will show up quite frequently (at least in name, possibly visage). She's simply the "Cece" mentioned in previous entries. We like to spend time together. So I'll start with the end of last week and approach the beginning of this week. Last week ended with a trip to Chinatown with Cece, as she had been invited by her family of like, 8,000 to meet up for dinner. Well... I'm exaggerating a bit. We met 6 of her great aunts and uncles (of more than 12) and cousin and second cousin at a restaurant, and had a really cool meal. I tried a bunch of totally random food, attempted to eat a madly sweet soup of beans and root (??!?!?!) [the end result was a tongue that actually flattened upon contact with the stuff, because of the salty bit I had just previously eaten. One extreme to the next is dangerous], and probably ended up consuming a grand total of 5 pounds of MSG. But it was amazing. I got to talk to her second cousin about guitars, and the entire family engaged on stocks and apartments. Then, we hitched a ride back to Broadview Dormitory with her Uncle Paul.

Saturday, we were out on a quest for button-flap jeans. Huh. That's a long story. All you really need to know is that I have a certain bit for flap-pocket jeans, and that I'm very particular about the fit. This was an adventure. We overcame a queer salesman who told me I had a beautiful face, $225 jeans, and jackets with zippers (John Mayer's jacket from "Continuum"). Dinner at Friday's finished that nigt up, and then a busride back to the dorm. And a 2am bedtime. Maybe later.

Man. It's just all been a blur. But a really awesome blur.

Sunday, Yesterday, and Today have been all homework and stuff and Church.

OH!!!! AIKIDO!!!! I've found a martial art perfect for me. So people are freaked out that I'm sort of less than fat. "Oh no! South Side!!! A thin white boy!!!" Oh, no, kids. Aikido (a.k.a. the way of peace) is all about being able to defend yourself. Not about offense, but defense. and it's good for the body and mind, and it's really effective. as well as graceful and amazing. this video explains it well: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3200145913123453079

Oh. On an unexpected sidenote... I'm also attending ballet. Yeah. Hey! It's really cool! Cece mentioned it at dinner, and I was like "sweet. can I come?". So I came (fighting instinct), and I really enjoyed it. I may even go back this Thursday. I ain't good yet, but it's sweet.

And then, I played in a practice room in the lower part of Broadview for about an hour one day... that was good, too.

All right. I've got to go do stuff. Homework, and get to sleep on the same day I woke up.

Write me up.