Justin's Blog

Monday, November 26, 2007

Radiohead is cool.

So the rest of the weekend was a blur of mathematics and seeing wonderful people.

Friday, I spent much of the day with Rochelle, chilling out at the good old Westfield Shoppingtown Centre (Strongsville Mall). We looked at pants, we looked at people, and we had some Subway in the food court. On top of this, we met her grandmum and Aunt and Uncle there. Good to see them. We spent the rest of the day either at the Mall or doing work.

Saturday was day of mathematics. Fairly productive... much more so than last time this happened, and I shouldn't have to go so hardcore the night before the journal is due, this time. Yet, I'm still going to stay up very very late and do good good work for the day until the journal needs to be handed in. The class is really spectacular, and I'm glad I made the decision to stay in it. If you have more questions about this apparent suicide, just call me.
Saturday evening was a really good experience. Rochelle made her way over, and two family friends (Hi, Bill and Dinah!) came over for dinner. We talked a bit about college, about business, and I eventually made my way back upstairs to work some more. I was scheduled to got to Cici's pizza to meet up with some friends, but work was pushing in on all sides, so I stayed back. Eventually, though, I escaped and met everyone at Borders. Which was a superior experience. I also listened to Linkin Park. Which was cool.

Sunday... a day in transit.
The parting from Cleveland was fairly smooth, and I determined that I like the Cleveland Greyhound stop much better than the Chicago... People in Cleveland seem so much happier than those in Chicago! We may be poor, but we're happy.
Ended up (once more) not being able to do work at all on the bus. So I thought some deep thoughts and eventually decided to be happy. I also decided to listen to the rather loud conversation which was disallowing me from working. Fairly cool... but loud. Basically, a person who had just decided one day that she would dedicate her life to Christianity. She's written two books.
Skated the streets of downtown on the way back.

Speaking of skating:

The gauze is thanks to a spill about ah hour ago.

Tonight: Work, with a possible run.

Oh. And this morning, I was looking through some of the shared iTunes libraries in the dorm... and came across Radiohead! And I said, "Hey! Radiohead just put out a cool new download!!!".

Terribly sweet. Terribly amazingly good music. And terribly cool concept, on the band's part.
For those who won't go to the site: You go through a series of steps... then, "checkout".... you set the price.

I respect that. But I still paid nothing. Maybe buy it later, for a proper fee.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Breaking up the Weekend...

Heyllo, all.
Breaking up this weekend by using multiple blog posts... Thought it would be a good idea, because a lot is bound to happen.
I'm currently in the basement at my Dad's, just preparing to do some of this ridiculous amount of mathwork due on Tuesday. It isn't as drastically deadly as last time, because I'm starting early and have a free weekend, but it's still pretty crazy. Well.... I guess I sort of do have more to do than last time, so I should be shaking in my boots a little bit.
But I learned from last time, and that all-nighter, so now I'm more dedicated. Hence... I'm not upstairs watching Pinks, next to Jason.

The Greyhound sucks. I'll just put that out there for everyone right now. If you ever had any doubts about the megabus, put them out of your mind, because I have seen the other side of the fence. And the grass isn't greener.
I left at about 8.30pm for the station, at 630 West Harrison Street (thanks for the ride offer, Niamh... next time, I'll probably take it). The wind was totally ridiculous and standing in my little bus depot at S. Hyde Park and 56th was crazy... seriously, I'm amazed at how much abuse that thing can take. The walk of 8ish blocks to the Greyhound station, because I wanted to save money, and I thought it was a nice night, was totally worth it... Hence, the picture. Seeing the top 50 stories of the Sears Tower shrouded by mist was really cool. So cool that I stopped.

Bus depot was depressing. Some of you'll know the books you're given to read in English class.... those that are on the "literary canon". Usually those involving child abuse, broken families, bad bad bad decisions, and alcohol. Welcome to the Greyhound station. If you looked around, it was like the station was full of these stories, and more. I felt more comfortable on the megabus, because I was next to my fellow college-mates. Oh. end paragraph.

I was supposed to sleep on the bus, because it ran from 11.15pm to 7.35am.
That didn't happen.
On megabus, you can usually get away with having no one sit next to you... because they don't overcrowd the buses like Greyhound (and most airlines). Not the case here. I had some random dude who had been drinking sit next to me. He seemed decent, and was fairly nice.... nothing crazy, but I just don't like the smell of alcohol. But he was talking a lot of the ride to a guy across the aisle with whom he went to school (like, 40 years ago). It was cool to see a reunion like that.
So I tried to get comfortable.
About 40mins into the ride, I start hearing this flapping noise. I'm like "what?". I thought it was some kid clapping... or there was this woman in front of me in line at the station who stood and swayed and sang, listening to her music, for 1.5, 1.6 hours waiting for the bus. I thought it might've been her. It came at sort of random intervals (I tried counting them off...), so it was difficult trying to sleep with them there.

In fact... It was much like having an elevator next to your dorm room...

But yeah. As the dawn came, I learned that it was the windshield wipers. Booya.

Got off the bus and was greeted by Norman. And then Mum, waiting outside in the Eos. That was wonderful.
Got to complain to them about the bus ride, and eventually got home to a brief breakfast, and then a nap (a gooood nap.).

Off to Grandma's, where it was really sweet to see everyone (Including Joanne). Talked a lot about everything, got to share pictures of Chicago, and got to enjoy company and good Thanksgiving repast.
Off to Dad's, where we did it all again. I hadn't seen any of the relatives on this side since I left for school, so it was sort of cool to reacquaint. Yeah. Talked about life and school and saw some cool pictures of what U.Bob's been doing installing sweet bathrooms.
And they left.
And here I am: Looking to do some good work, and writing you all.

Schedule for weekend:
Work in all spare seconds.
Tomorrow-Time with Rochelle.... Let's go to the mall and watch people on Black Friday... and I haven't been to a suburban mall in ages (I'm pretty darn stoked.)
Saturday night-Goldstein and Andersen, and some sweet times out at Cici (not Cece)'s pizza with some friends... It's going to be great to see them.

But if anyone's interested, and I'm not breaking my face with work.... call me up. We can meet somewhere.

More information by weekend end...
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving awaits.

Hey, guys.
So It's been a day over a week...

Monday and Tuesday were really swift days, and over as fast as they had come.
I spent a lot of time doing my mathematics, talking with the math teachers, and a lot of time doing other work, too.
It felt good.

But Wednesday and Thursday were far less productive, with lots of time that simply didn't go anywhere... Methinks two days set me back a little.

Friday night was a really great time. You'll remember that last Friday, a group of us went out to see the Darjeeling Limited. We enjoyed it so much that Cece and I set out to go see another movie on Friday. We saw a movie called Bella... it's a pretty good movie about.... well.... what was it about? There were a couple of plot lines, I guess. One was about the survival of a child that was due to be had by a waitress at a restaurant, and the other was about the friendship between an ex-soccer star José and the waitress. While I had super-high hopes for the movie and was a bit disappointed by its ultra-emotive side (lots of crying... in the movie. Not me.) it was still a good film, and I'd recommend it for someone who likes movies with endings to remember.
After the film, Cece and I walked around area we were in. The theatre was on the North Side, at 28 blocks north of center of the city... It was a whole different world from the south side. There were even comments of "This doesn't feel at all like Chicago.". It was pretty cool... we stopped at a nearby Caribou Coffee after the film and talked for awhile while enjoying some mint drink.

Oh. What I didn't mention was that before the movie on Friday, I took the liberty of skateboarding a little around Hyde Park. Really fun. I came back and was invigorated, and please with myself, because I am actually progressing.

Saturday was mainly a work day, but with the evening came the Broadview Chili Cook-Off. I took a night off vegetarianism to try some of the chilis there (none of which were better than Mum/Grandma's. And there were like, 7 or 8 there.). There was also cornbread in mass quantities, which was great. I like cornbread. Ah. After that, I went to my room to try to do some work, but kept on getting distracted by the loud people in the lounge, the loud people in the hall, and the loudspeaker of an elevator. I called up Cece, and we took a trip to the Borders two blocks away, which was remarkably conducive to work (and Iced Tea.), screaming kids and all. I wrote an email, did some math, and wrote a long-overdue reply to a letter received nearly 3 weeks ago (not read until 2 weeks ago). I went to sleep at 12.30am.

Today, I slept until 10.15am. That's the first time I've ever slept past like, 9.30am. And I don't like to sleep late. It was pretty lame. And Church was at 11am. Huh. Well, went to Church, then to breakfast, where I ate three oranges. Navel oranges are good. The day was a valiant attempt at work, but instead I had communication with Dad, which was great. It's good to stay in touch. I still don't know how to keep in touch with everyone I want to.

I had communications galore this weekend. I talked with mum and sent her an email (it's been way too long in that department. I'm calling again after I write this), talked with Rochelle, talked with Cathy and Michael (showed them around my room via video-chat... first time.), talked with Dad, talked with Jon Krause (booya.), talked a little with Ashwin.... jeez. I don't know how to manage it all.

I should have some pictures up of random things fairly soon, so don't fret.

Oh. And if you're looking for some good music, try Andrew Bird. I'd describe him as The Shins (sort of weird-sounding alternative rock group) mixed with Jon Foreman (for vocal style-lead man of Switchfoot) mixed with Damien Rice (slow slow slow music. I sort of got tired of it. I see it as "college music", which I don't want to get sucked into.). High recommendation. andrewbird.net.
Further, Jon Foreman of Switchfoot (the aforementioned, yes.) is coming out with some acoustic EP's for all four seasons... in all four seasons. Fall comes out Nov. 27th. he's got some stuff up on myspace.com/jonforeman. Really good stuff. He wrote the end credit song in Bella.

All right........... I am seeing you all very soon. I'm terribly excited for Thanksgiving break, and Winter break will be nothing short of 2 feet below heaven.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I am obliged.

So. I do still exist.
Let's get a refresh... last time you tuned in, my family came to visit me, and was spectacular. You also heard about my trip with Cece to the Dunes... pretty sweet.

But... ! Nearly three weeks have gone by, and I haven't said anything. So I'm getting my calendar out so I can make sure I get it right.

Starting from October 22nd onward...
I had taken a written exam during orientation week, and placed into second quarter, second year French. This was far enough along where if I passed an oral "language competency exam", I could get out of language at the university. Period. So the Thursday after my family came (October 25th), I went after not having spoken french in 18 months to take the exam. It was something else. The highlight was the test-giver asking me what I did last weekend.... I remembered how to say that my girlfriend came to visit, but I didn't remember how to say anything else besides that we went to the library (which we didn't) and that we went out to eat (we did this.). I passed.

The day after that, Rochelle came to visit for the weekend. This was pretty sweet. We basically spent the weekend together doing whatever we wanted. One night, we went downtown (on a quasi-quest for clothes) and simply enjoyed ourselves. We ended up having dinner at a random place called the "Soup Box" downtown, and talking about life. I really enjoyed myself. After this, it was a $6 milkshake (?!??!) at Ghiradelli (oh. that would explain it.) chocolates downtown. Some time in Borders, and then back to the dorm. We also went to the Case-Chicago football game (really.... no youth in the stands. It was sort of funny. All parents and grandparents. And a really intense drum major, conducting a motley marching band. And a shared hot chocolate. I remember now. I think that's how I justified spending more money on lunch afterwards. We shared hot chocolate instead of buying two separate cups.

The week after... Pretty desolate. Lots of work, some panic attackish times... yep. That was my life before this time. You've heard of me doing all these incredible things on weekends and weeknights, and enjoying the heck out of life. And I know for a fact that some of you have been wondering "Just how does he do it?". The answer is... I don't. Or didnt'. The first fiveish weeks, I really enjoyed myself and spent ample time relaxing and learning my surroundings. Bad idea. It caught up last week. More on that later. November 2nd, a Friday, I left for home. I wanted to do homework on the Megabus. Didn't really happen, because the lights on the bus didn't work. BUT. More on the megabus.

The Megabus is a really sweet transit system. Basically, tickets from Cleveland to Chicago, or Chicago to Cleveland, for $1 plus $0.50 reservation fee. Well... if you're lucky, at least. My ticket Nov. 2 was more expensive, because we bought it pretty close to the date, but my ticket to go home on Dec. 8th is a bona fide $1.50, total. Earlier you book, the less tickets cost. Pretty sweet. Anyway. how do they do it?!? Well... I didn't read the whole spiel on their website, but I'm pretty sure they simply don't advertise, do all their booking online, and don't have any depots. The bus left from in front of Union Station in Chicago (which had signs advising megabus customers to STAY OUT, because megabus didn't pay to have a depot inside Union Station). It was a clean bus, with really cool people inside (mostly college-age kids going home for the weekend, some elderly... no one seedy), and most people slept the journey through. The oddest thing was that the lights didn't work, and I doubt the bus driver turned on the heat. On the return journey, which left from in front of Tower City, was more comfortable, with heat and light.

But the weekend at home was wonderful. The first night, I got into Cleveland at about 11.20pm, and was really stoked to ride home i) In a personal motor vehicle (not a bus) and ii) In the Eos. We got home, snacked, and talked for awhile, in that amazing way that only the family can, in the kitchen. Saturday I woke up when my eyes opened, enjoyed a breakfast of pancakes, and spent a bunch of time outside raking leaves. Ahh... manual labor. Pretty excited for winter break, when I can do even more labor. If anyone who is reading this needs something built or cleaned or fixed in their home or yard, just email me. aschenbener@uchicago.edu. Anyway. Then it was time to leave for Grandma's and Aunt Liz's, where we had the traditional fall meal, concluding in Aunt Liz's pie and cider and Costume. I should post a picture (just kidding, Aunt Liz). Many thanks to them. It was great to be back, and with the family. Ah, but then it was time to go home. Soooooo... time for family part two. We stopped at Rochelle's house on the way home, and I was able to see Ms. Hudson (which I was really happy about) and her new refrigerator (still happy to see this... it's really cool. But less happy than I was to see Master D). And Rochelle accompanied us on the way back home. Mum had the longtime friend and mentor Mr. Goldstein over for dinner, and Ms. Hudson drove over, too, so we talked and enjoyed ourselves until the night was up. Sunday morning, I was able to take some time with Dad, which was really awesome, at Bruegger's, but too short of a time. I had so much work to do.... So the rest of sunday was spent working (or attempting to work on something called a math journal).

My math course is a killer. Because I was a loser my first 5 weeks, I didn't think as much about math as I should have. As a result, the journal (100+ proofs over everything we'd done thus far, much of which I did not yet understand) was due Tuesday. And I didn't yet know how to use the software for writing it up. NOT letting that happen again. You'll see why.
::End aside.

But that work didn't go so well. I ended up trying to work at Saxby's coffee, and talking to Ashwin (booya.).
Bus back to Chicago, with a promise to return for Thanksgiving.

Sunday night, two hours of sleep.
Monday night... never began or ended. First time I ever did that, and certainly the last time. Unless it's to do something once-in-a-lifetime. Like watch the Northern Lights. Well, I guess it'd be just as majestic to sleep under them. You all get it.

But as a result, I resolved to do a lot of stuff, and my week turned out to be probably the best yet. I actually did a lot of work, understood stuff, got enough exercise, and skated around campus (ooooooo. with my new shoooooooooes. and skateboooooooooard. I feel a couple of tiiiiimes. But what do you expect?

Yesterday night, Niamh (sweet Irishwoman) said "hey-you're coming to see this movie called "The Darjeeling Limited". So I went, along with Cece, Kelsey, and a dude named Erik (good to know him. Quite mellow.). And my skateboard. Pretty cool movie... not one of those "walk out and feel floored" movies, but still a pretty sweet movie that took place a lot in India. Which was very cool in much of the movie (power to you, Ashwin.). Google it. I'm supposed to have dinner in a couple of minutes, so I've got to make this quick. (yeah, right.)

Today. Amazing day. Habitat for Humanity. I'll take pictures next time.
Cece and I ventured off at like, 6.55ish AM to the campus, to take a van to Gary, Indiana. Here, we built houses. Well... helped other people build them. I got to monkey around on scaffolding all day, putting up siding and some trim for next to the roof. Next time.... drywall????
I made a new friend, too. His name is Josh, and he was doing Habitat too. Different reason. Community service. He was there on gun charges. It was pretty cool... I make some really odd friends. I got to hear all about his past (and maybe near future), and why he was where he is now. I won't go into detail, but it involved a bunch of jailtime, drugs, stealing cars, "heartbreak, and [what I would call improper] "solutions" to "heartbreak". Really nice guy, though, and smarter than his dumb choices and bad crowds.
But it was amazing, and I talked with him about his future. He's really an all right guy. I wish him the best, and I really hope we meet again. And we did some good work on a house.
I'm definitely going again. Hopefully next Saturday (one week from now).

Righto. A week and a half, and I'll be home for Thanksgiving. How sweet is that?

PS-I feel lame, because I do not have a picture. But no fear. I'll add one to some post soon.