Saturday, September 11, 2010

Still amazed I didn't lose it on the roof of the place when I was drunk and I was thinking of you

Tuesday morning took me right back to 1992. It was my first day of classes in America and my stomach was doing backflips as I sat in class waiting for the teacher to arrive. He took the roll, couldn't play a video and let everyone go early. It was an entirely informal affair and my nerves subsided instantly. The rest of the day was repeated over and over, introductions, book lists and a list of expectations. I was shocked by the amount of work that is expected here, but then again, that's what I came here looking for.

I started Wednesday off with a dishevelled visit to the hairdresser. They work for tips here and I have never had a hairdresser get up so close and personal ever before. The routine resembled a lap dance with a bit of grooming thrown in. Satisfied with my new do, I tipped the lady pretty well and went on my way to the mall with Michael, but not before a visit to KFC.
KFC's distable.

Ever since it took over the internet, the KFC Double Down became a mountain I wanted to climb. This was to be my first and only attempt, as repeat ascents would cause my arteries to clog and my heart to break. Slowly, I wrapped my hands around two pieces of fried chicken breast that hugged cheese and bacon. Every  bite was a brilliant experience, filled with equal parts joy and cholesterol. Once I finished the burger it immediately took it's toll. I began to feel sleepy, greasy and cumbersome, though I had climbed my mountain, I lost part of myself up there.
Michael and I mallrat'd it up for a while, spending time in the gun section of the sporting store and trying out baseball bats. It's a great thing about America that I can go out to the local mall and arm myself for the apocalypse. However, that wasn't the intention and I left with a printer instead.

That afternoon I walked to Amherst's train station to pick-up Erika. I have only been gone for a month, but it's always nice to have a touch of home around. We tried to get a taxi, but in a city this small it is near impossible. Instead we settled for a bus and got Erika checked into the campus hotel. The evening was pretty quiet, with Erika being zonked from the past few days. I went to the library, did my study until 11PM and skated my way back to bed.
Kenny Powers

My Thursday schedule mirrors my Tuesday one, but this time there were no early marks. Some of the books I ordered online arrived before class and so I gave them a quick reading. Midway through one I fell asleep, waking up when class was meant to start. I got most of my shit together and headed for class. In my haste to get learned in class, I locked my key in my room, making my return a terrible pain in the arse. For nearly an hour I went up and down stairs and between buildings before I was able to get a spare key and recover my own. This American red-tape really got to me, as I don't understand the inefficiency of all their procedures.

Erika and I met up with Lee-Roy in Amherst for a few quiet beers. We went to the Monkey Bar, where Lee-Roy was enjoying his vegetarian ravioli in the nice atmosphere of the restaurant. We sat around for a few beers when the place changed completely. The rubber drink mats came out, the tables and tablecloths disappeared, the chairs were taken from under our arses and the security fence from the front came out. The nice Monkey Bar transformed into the dive bar I visited the week before. Crazy. The beer went from glasses to plastic cups and girls dressed like hookers paid the cover charge to get in. Immediately guys circled like sharks and every second person appeared to be a home-boy like character. There was a 30 minute window where the dive bar was great, but we quickly decided to get tae fuck.

We walked down the street to the Spoke, a quiet (still packed) bar. My accent worked a charm, scoring a free beer and proved a hilarious ice-breaker to random strangers (though not as good as my Danzig t). We stuck around until close, after I insulted some girl in a round about way she didn't understand. Lee-Roy had smoke-bombed it by this stage so Erika and I went to a house on Sunset, to hang out with the other internationals.

The house on sunset had taken a few of the guys under their wings, and they seem to be there all the time now. When we arrived there was a megaphone, that I then proceeded to have most of my conversations from. I crashed in the spare bed in Erika's hotel after this, enjoying a double bed for the first time in weeks.

Erika and I went to Amherst in the afternoon, meeting up with the English girls in a restaurant and watched them eat. I am still blown away by how tiny the city is, as you can practically walk from one end to the other in about 4-5 paces. After dinner Erika retired back to her room, not feeling well from an earlier meal. It would turn out to be an extremely wise decision.

I met up with Sam, Alex and Jess and together, with my skateboard, we went to the liquor store. After a two hour round trip we made it back to the rooms and started drinking. After sinking a few over an hour or two we went out looking for parties. We noticed people were walking the opposite direction and took some cues from them. Along the way a bright orange bollard caught my attention and looked like it needed to be tipped over....

Lights came on and out of his car, torch in hand stormed a police officer. Oops. He was not impressed with my post-modern approach to traffic apparatus and demanded my i.d. His partner approached everyone else, making them pour out their mixed drinks because "your friend is an idiot".
I pulled out my wallet, "Is an Australian licence ok?"
"sure...New South Wales eh?"
"Yep, that's me."
"Do you have any other i.d. or UMass card?"
"Just the card"
"O.K....Lewis, you're smarter than this."
And that was it. And I hope he's right.

Undeterred, Alex, Richard and myself headed for the South-West part of the campus. Having not learned my lesson from before, on the walk I got a bit mouthy and there was a misunderstanding between us and another group of bros. They began following us, looking to cause a bit of ruckus. Being savvy foreign students, we found the nearest big group of people and befriended them. Some frat guys told us all about their fraternity as the other group were now outnumbered and forced to 'jog on'.

Another house on Sunset had its lights on and a few people walking around. We walked in uninvited to the remnants of a gathering. Again, turning on the foreign charm we paraded around like we owned the house. I have a vague recollection of my meeting my dream girl there. She loved Jack Kerouac, Frank Turner and was all sorts of smoking hot. She seemed lovely, but I kept getting her name wrong and after a while we took our cues to head back.
Squirrel eating pastry.

Somehow only Alex and I were the only ones left standing. It was about 4:30 or 5AM when we stumbled across some people playing a late/early game of volleyball, which goes a long way to explaining my morning. I woke up to see Erika off, already clothed, but to a pile of sand next to my bed. I was still a bit drunk when I said goodbye. The time with her went by very quickly, but it was still a lovely visit. It was shame she missed out on such a brilliant night, but I doubt she has any regrets after seeing my state this morning.

Ryan Adams - New York, New York.
It's September 11 over here and there's not much that I need to say about that. However, I want to share this video anyway. When I first saw it I was a 15 year old who was massively into heavy metal. The film-clip struck me first, but very quickly I began to enjoy the song. It would be a few years later, but Ryan Adams very quickly became my favourite musician. So this song and clip, despite it's obvious 9/11 connotations, is a reminder to my introduction to Ryan Adams, and why I stopped wearing so many black t-shirts.

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