Andare, Partire, Tornare

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Encyclopediac Report Of A Visit To A Small College Town

Home again, home again – back to that little townhouse somewhere in Northern Virginia, that currently smells like cat pee because a roommate’s cat is having dominance issues.

Tell you what – Bemo and I NEEDED this trip. Or, more specifically, this time off together, this blissful leisurely excursion. To do nothing in particular for a few days. Heck, even the weather up in State College cooperated – it was sunnier and warmer up there than it’s been down here.

Spotted on the trip up: a license plate reading “Dood WTF.” Oh how we laffed. But we also realized, about an hour into the trip, that we hadn’t taken the wet/dry vac out of the back of the truck. So it came along for the ride.

The entire town was filled with teenage girl volleyball players, there to compete in some sort of junior Olympics tournament. It was funny to watch them fling themselves around town, giggling, rolling their eyes at stupid things their parents said, buying up Penn State hoodies and souvenirs at an ungodly rate, and sporting t-shirts that said things like “Mayhem Volleyball!” Poor Bemo didn’t have a safe place to look, because all of them were tall, cute young things in spandex shorts, barely-there tops, and other clothes that wouldn’t be out of place on an episode of “Wild On.” He would catch a glimpse of a perky ass trip-trotting by, look at it, realize it belonged to a sixteen-year-old, and feel guilty. Hee!

I had forgotten another State College phenomenon – the half-price happy, aka cheap drinks from eight to ten. I know other places have happy hours, but I had forgotten how it plays out in SC – you show up at eight, and buy a pitcher of kamakazis, or whatever, and stick a straw in it. Voila! A cheap drink that will last you for an hour or so. Then, if you’ve timed it right, you can buy a second pitcher (again, for half-price) and have another one. By that point, you’re blitzed and still have some cash in your pocket. One of the girls sitting next to us in The Saloon when we went to see Katsu was drunkenly slurring, “Who are …these people who aren’t eating their cherries?” and spearing marachinos out of other people’s drinks. Ahh, good times.

While the general feel of State College was the same, there were a lot of shocking changes. A big hunk of the new highway project was finished, so we found ourselves driving a lot of new pavement. The campus itself is undergoing a lot of construction, and we found that roads that hadn’t existed now did, and roads that had existed were now dead ends, or were torn up to put new buildings in. A big walkway over a major road was being worked on, plus new buildings were popping up like mushrooms after rain. Some stores that we took for granted have disappeared, while others have relocated, renamed themselves, or have been completely renovated.

I was a little surprised to feel more like a tourist and less like somebody coming “home,” because my past trips to Penn State had felt very much like that. In fact, Bemo felt very much like he was finally breathing freely for the first time in a while. That’s probably due to a bunch of different things – it was our first “vacation” in ages, the weather was nice, and State College is significantly more relaxed and relaxing than the greater DC area. Bemo felt like a big weight had been taken off his chest. I was actually expecting to feel the same way Bemo did, (and I did actually feel happy and relaxed), but the sense that I had returned home was missing. I spent some time trying to analyze this (because, you know, I can’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to an emotion, however fleeting it may be). I think I worked it out, though – my real feelings of home and community came from interacting with the grad department, and through them, State College. This was my first trip back without meeting up with anybody who I had bonded with through the two years of work there, and consequently I was feeling a little abandoned, especially since I was officially told by one of the librarians that “Penn State doesn’t consider you a student at this point in time.” I sort of knew that, but having it said to you is a little different. So for me, State College became a fun place to visit that contained a lot of memories, but it wasn’t home anymore. All for the better, I suppose. It means I can focus on Operation: Discover DC!

Truthfully, I didn’t get a whole lot of productive work done on my research. I couldn’t check out any books, and my initial plan to Xerox bunches of stuff was foiled by the fact that I’d need a whole day and tons of cash to Xerox everything I needed. I did get a bunch of titles I want to look at, though. I think I will have to rely on the kindness of Cherbear, who has made her GMU library account available to me, to get my books. And I think I need to email the Thesis office (or perhaps Dr. Z directly) to see if I need to do anything weird to reactivate myself as a student before I turn in my thesis. Um, after I write it, that is.

If anybody has any good suggestions in mind as to books to help me relearn how to research, I’d be happy to hear them. Seriously, folks – it’s scary how quickly the skill of researching and writing a paper slips out of your hands when you don’t have to use it anymore. And I highly suspect I wasn’t much good at it in the beginning, so it’s even harder to recapture.

So all in all, it was a good mini-break. Memorial Day itself, I bugged around with Boop and went to DeBaggio herbs and bought a lavender plant, some lemon verbena, and another rosemary plant, so we’ll see how they do. And in other news, my mom is still bug-fuck crazy. So what else is new?

12:04 p.m. - 2003-05-27

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