Monday, June 05, 2006

Life roundup

A brief attempt to summarize the past 2 months or so:

  • Obviously Spring Break (see previous 2 entries) was a rollicking good time. Moving right along:
  • The Senate District Convention for the Harris County Democratic Party was Saturday March 25th, and the Fightin' 361st was well represented. Somehow I was signed up as a delegate to the state party convention, and as a result I have been bombarded with materials asking me to support one candidate or another for state party chair. Even though I'll be way far away from Fort Worth during the convention, and I told them as much on the day of. The convention itself was a bit disappointing in that it seemed disorganized and that nobody knew what was going on (or, rather, that I and the people around me didn't seem to know exactly what was going on) and the schedule seemed to be only suggestions. My excitement came when a bunch of candidates were stumping for support either in the runoff primary or for the general election. Regrettably, nobody from the Chris Bell campaign was there, so I decided to go up and speak on his behalf, ending with a line stolen from CB himself as said at his victory party on primary night: "It'll be a true manifestation of God's sense of irony if--no, when--Tom DeLay loses his seat in Congress and has to come back to a state where Chris Bell is governor!" And almost on cue, Nick Lampson, who is running for congress in district 22 (and was running against DeLay until DeLay withdrew from the race and resigned), came in. Good thing I stepped up, huh?
  • Beer Bike! aka the Most Wonderful Time of the Year:
      It's the most wonderful time of the year
      When the chuggers are chugging,
      The bikers are biking,
      And people drink beer!
    No, Hanszen didn't win the race, at least not according to any "fact-based" calculation of the times. But we did outlast everyone in terms of balloons, and isn't that what counts? Well, strictly speaking, no. But I had a lot of fun as Hanszen biker #6 and feel that everyone on the teams acquitted himself or herself well. I was very glad to have people tell me that they thought I was going so quickly. It was thrilling to come around towards the pit on my first lap and realize that I was overtaking a biker from Will Rice, until it occurred to me that the reason he was slowing down and then going into the pit was that he was done with his third lap and I still had two more to go. Alas. But there's always next year the 2009 alumni race.
  • But it's not just the biking I love. It's the whole week before it when I feel like everyone else's latent Hanszenophilia comes out and everyone else loves Hanszen as much as I do. But that's not fair of me. We show our commitment in different ways, and if everybody else were interested in the same things in which I've been deeply involved, other important matters would have been neglected. Maybe Beer-Bike is just a big enough project for everyone to have a part to play--we can never have too many balloons, right?--in a way that bikes or computers are too small and "provincial." But there's nothing I love more than seeing my 300 best friends in the Hanszen quad (some in varying states of sobriety) with good music pumping and all decked out in Hanszen blue. I'll really miss it.
  • Spring Recess: I'd read about it, written about it, and heard about it, but never experienced it. Stricken from the academic calendar in 2002-2003, it was reinstated for the 2004-2005 year but the people in Madrid cared not so much for what the Rice calendar said when I was over there for the semester. I was hoping it would be a great opportunity for me to catch up on all that work that I'd been meaning to do for the whole semester. It was also good to laze around the room and do nothing, which is fortunate, because that's pretty much what happened. Off and on from around spring break, I'd been starting the process of "The Purge," getting rid of four years' worth of junk that had accumulated in my possession. So there was a bit of that, but mostly I was barely able to keep up with the various newspapers, handouts, fliers, and other detritus that was coming in to maintain a static overall level of mess.
  • Holy Week and Easter. Since early April, I went to a number of events with Canterbury and decided that I really liked it. I'd been going to the associated Palmer Church all the time, and never made time for the Sunday evening events. But after about a month, I decided that what I was missing at 11:00 was a sense of community. I probably could have given a little more effort and found a community with non-Rice "real people," but I knew probably half of the Canterbury people already, and didn't need to be the one person under 40 yet somewhere else. I sometimes have been busy on Sunday evenings and Friday lunches, but now I wish I had allowed myself to be drawn in a bit more. In previous years I'd sort of dreaded coming back from church on Easter to just another brunch at Hanszen, but happily avoided that situation this year.
  • Last day of classes and final exams! It is a very strange experience--or it was, for me, at least--to think that after four years, I was never going to another class at Rice. But with lots of work for the exams period looming, it didn't seem to be so immediately a big deal. Anticlimactic as ever, my 10:00 was cancelled, my 11:00 is only Monday and Wednesday, and my 1:00 was also cancelled.
  • Of course, I didn't immediately jump into the rather significant amount of work I had waiting for me; I made haste to waste time. (See: Spring Recess, above.) But by Sunday and Monday, I was doing work at a serious pace. Except for that Monday night, May 1, I got violently ill, and wound up going to the hospital to be treated for a food-poisoning-esque stomach virus. So that was fun. Or not: the hospital was either way air conditioned, or I had some chills, or both. In any case, I was quite cold, but they could neither adjust the temperature, nor give me any blankets that were thicker than newsprint. To top it off, I had a cold IV line going into my arm. I was very glad to come home and spend about 30 hours in a row in bed that next day or so. Which was particularly interesting because I had been counting, in a very significant kind of way, on doing a considerable amount of
    work in a full throttle, late night every night way, to be done by my Thursday noon deadline. Since I had spent 29 hours in a row Tuesday-Wednesday, my professors had, mercifully, cut me a bit of slack and given me until Friday at 5 and converted stuff into take homes. Talk about drama. And when I finally did turn in my last thing, it was still almost anticlimactic.
  • Fortunately, all my need for drama and climax came during Commencement. I love the robes and stoles and hoods, and have to wonder why we don't dress up like this more often. I suppose it is an annual thing, but I'd never been to a Rice commencement before (much less been in one), and it was everything I had imagined it would be. But students don't typically dress up in the robes even at commencement, and I think it is to our detriment. Bill White was our speaker--the third time I'd heard him at Rice, but only the first time that I wasn't personally responsible for getting him to come. His speech was a very to-the-point endorsement of life in public service. Match that up with the final installment of The Purge and a family visit, and what a weekend it was.

  • More to come soon. Because I imagine the entire Internet is just dying to know what I've been up to.

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