Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Despite the opinions of my hosts, Philadelphia Cheese-Steak is not exactly an inspirational choice for demonstrating American culture to me. The only thing more disgusting than the radioactively-fluorescent cheese was the essay I had to write about the experience. Despite all the enjoyment of studying abroad, in way too many cases, the studying part has been a disappointment. I don't have proof, but I doubt there are many professors who idealised about students writing about the most disgusting food in western culture.

With that rant over another began. To celebrate the completion of what may well have been the most irrelevant and redundant piece of work the academic world has ever seen Sam, Oliver, Max and myself ventured to Stackers. The crowd out on the Friday seemed older than usual, with the young-uns presumably falling over their feet at a house party somewhere. Despite this age, every guy in the bar dressed in an untucked and oversized shirt that looked like they were back in school trying on their Dad's work clothes. This coupled with Timberland boots caused particularly disdain, to the point where we would toast and bring our plastic cups together in celebration of not acting like one of these American college student sheep types. One guy, complete with tan Timberland boots even had the audacity to join our group's celebration despite "not knowing what the hell your cheers-ing".

Oh well, if being obnoxious snoots wasn't going to the get us into trouble we thought we'd break the monotony provided by awful hip-hop by playing The Strokes and Electric Six's Gay Bar over the jukebox. There was no reaction from the crowd to the latter, but that was because the song had been turned down.

The bar lights came on, and we'd still not found trouble. If there was one place to find that, it would be Sunset, and our feet ploddered and slipped on the icy footpaths that led the way. The street was full of police cars, and we assumed they'd been given one of their regular visits. Alas, it was for someone else on the foremost street of Amherst's party belt.

The house looked shut off, with the windows darkened and the door firmly shut. Max opted to invite himself and us in through the side door. Inside was everyone, as welcoming and soberly challenged as always. Their green laser light was doing it's spiral thing all over the place as one girl invited me to dance on their coffee table. Without hesitation the smoke machine was brought out, and with time and the atmosphere fogged out, the night ended somewhere in the haze.

The smoke continued to parade around my brain the entire next day in what is often regarded as a hangover. Though not entirely responsible, a trip to Target in preparation for a party resulted in some questionable decisions. Firstly, I was shopping in the ladies section for a pink shirt. Secondly, finding one that read 'Love Blooms' with a picture of flowers was what I chose. Finally, the one picked out for Dicky Peach was even worse; the kind of fluorescent pink that causes blindness with the word love scrawled all over it.

In fairness to him, he was a good sport in ladies shirt. Sam also donned the pink, and Alex resisted until his attempt at shotgunning a beer left one of his countless Abercrombie polos soiled by some Keystone Lite. Eventually he joined us in pink threads and we headed to a party celebrating all of February's major events and our favourite, Valentine's Day.

The party filled up when some random punter brought along a whole heap of people no one recognised and I was picked out for being British (Australian!). No one really appreciated the themed shirts, and by the end of the night most people were too blitzed to really care. I was sat in the kitchen around 3 or 4AM talking to some of the people in the house when I was informed everyone else had left. Somehow, the whole party had shifted without my knowing, and that included my friends with it.

I had no idea how it happened, and despite the generous offer of a couch I ran down the street to catch up. The icy paths were a hindrance, and the school with the swing set we had previously played on was still snowed under, but I made it back-pink shirt still intact.

With the early celebrations of Valentine's Day since passing, when the 14th rolled round I was greeted by Amy, a friend from Wollongong who was staying for a few days. It was a lovely reminder of home, and opportunity to exercise my mouth in all the things about being back in Wollongong that no one gets here.

For 3 days I had someone in my ear saying "dead-set" and "heaps" and reminding me about how much fun I was having in months prior to leaving. She was there for the world cup, the night's we stayed in eating Chinese take-out and all of the parties (including the one for my going away).

Amy's trip resulted into more visits to Stackers than usual, but she was charming with my new friends over here. She was lucky enough to witness an old cowboy (literally, and the correct use of the word) croon his way through some country tunes as well as how easy it is to win free stuff from the generous Bacardi promotions girls of Western Massachusetts. Amy was the lucky recipient of a souvenir t-shirt.

As well at the general annoyance of my current schedule, it was a shame not to have more time to spend with Amy. With the accommodations and set up here it's hard to host guests, and she had to stay with friends in another building. It's an example of why, sometimes, I wish I were back at home. That independence is something fiercely lacking in this current existence, and only really returns when I leave campus to go out travelling. Nevertheless, her company was greatly appreciated. She got to experience a college town, the kind of cold that freezes hair.

I was sad to see her off, and she passed on some hugs from Brenna and Rowan at home. She was leaving to continue her road trip and I was about to start another one the next day. In preparation for my trip I did all of my washing, and when the load had finished I noticed some tokens and coins had magically appeared. Fantastic-free money! Only when I removed all my clothes I couldn't help but notice my wallet was staring back at me, only dark with the soapy water that soaked it.

I didn't care for the money that may have been damaged, the cost of replacing the wallet itself or the damage that may have occurred to the cards. Instead, my thoughts immediately went to the note both Amy and Brenna wrote before I left. In it they detailed the most disgusting things about living at Exeter, and since then I've carried  it around on me everyday. Fortunately the note was saved, and despite Amy heading off, Brenna being in India and all of us very far from home, I managed to salvage one of my favourite reminders of all three.
Exeter has never looked cleaner

*** Song
Hey Mercedes - Quality Revenge At Last
My favourite band from Chicago. Braid are 2nd, Wilco 3rd. Seriously.

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