So, now we're in Mongolia. It's late August 2005. After a few days in Ulaanbaatar, the capital and, well, the only real city in that country, I meet Will, a fellow traveler looking to buy a horse and head out into the vast Mongolian steppe, in search of adventure of some sort. Will was about twice my age and a hardened traveler. Some time ago, he had been a graduate student working on a PhD in history, until one day he realized he wasn't doing what he wanted in life. He discontinued his studies, broke up with his girlfriend and took what money he had to travel the world. When that ran out he found work as a chef on a sight-seeing vessel that operated off the British Columbian and Alaskan coasts; hardly work at all by the sound of it, until he had enough money to do it all over again. He's been living like that ever since.
I left off last time having just spent the night in the streets of Moscow, and upon awaking, found a dead body a few benches down from mine. It looked as though the man had drunk himself to death in the night. Nothing really came of this though; I couldn’t do anything to help the situation and the park was coming alive with people collecting the recyclables strewn about everywhere — he’d be found again soon enough.
Sometimes, in life, you are faced with a great crisis. The forefathers of our country had to figure out on the fly how to invent a country, and they performed admirably. The greatest generation is famed for their resolve in the face of adversity and Nazis. Of course, these are pretty huge crises that we can’t really compare our own lives to (at least, I certainly hope not), but there are, still, certain events that try our patience and reveal to the world just what we’re made of. This past weekend was one such time for me, as I struggled to adapt to something all of us must endure: Daylight Saving Time.
On another freezing night in front of 84 Mass Ave, a crowd of exhausted students await the SafeRides, those hypothetical saviors from the long walk home in the extreme cold. Among these peoples, we are interested in the unlucky few waiting for the legendary Cambridge West, the one fated to be the latest, and by far, the most ‘lawful’ of all.
I have the great fortune of being able to begin this week’s column in the same way as I began last week’s column, as once again I found myself cold and alone in the streets of Moscow, only this time it was in the middle of the night. My companion Oscar, who happened to have the only key to the apartment complex in which we were staying, had failed to meet me as planned, and so I found myself wandering the large section of city between the bar where we were supposed to meet, and our apartment complex.
Since we are so deep in the midst of term, I consider it my duty to help inform some of my less-fortunate (ie, course VI) friends about what’s been happening in the world lately. I mean, when you’ve been coding and debugging for eighteen hours straight, looking for that one parenthesis you missed, or whatever the heck you do, the larger things that go on in the world just might not seem that interesting.
How many of you recall your very first semester at MIT? I’m sure you can’t forget it; you know, that one time long ago when you put minimal effort into your classes and ended up passing with that obscure letter P. Man, wasn’t pass/no record great? My young self thought naively at the time, “This place isn’t all that bad. MIT is a pretty darn fun place. People shouldn’t be complaining so much. All this complaining just coalesces into a negative stereotype of this place.” That is, to outsiders all we do is work and work. Yeah right … I laughed, and laughed some more when thinking about the truth. Then that fateful day came: second semester started.
Shortly after getting food poisoning on a day when I’d bought all my food on campus and long after deciding I hated cooking for just myself, my level of knowledge about the dark world of frozen and microwavable food began to skyrocket. One day when I was in a group looking at the frozen food options in LaVerde’s while trying to improvise dinner in the half-hour break between rehearsals, I impressed some friends with my knowledge of what you were or weren’t going to regret putting in your mouth. One even suggested that these skills could have a humanitarian bent, rather than just being kinda sad. Thus this column was born.
It's not that I don't know how to cook. No, I occasionally bust out the pots and pans and make enough ziti or latkes to feed a small army. It's not that I can't — it's just that I don't want to. And over the past three years at MIT, I've learned how to avoid it very well. A bit too well some might say.
By the end of last week's column I was cold, soaking wet, and alone in the streets of Moscow, faced with the prospect of spending my first night abroad desperately huddled up under some old cardboard in an entryway somewhere. But the good luck I'd had in navigating the public transportation system held up, and I didn't end up spending the night in the streets after all. Not that night, anyway.
Last Thursday, Scarlett Johansson was in Cambridge adding The Hasty Pudding Theatricals' "Woman of the Year" Award (also known as the Pudding Pot) to her entourage of titles for this year, which include <i>Esquire's</i> "Sexiest Woman Alive" and <i>Playboy's</i> "Sex Star of the Year." The Hasty Pudding, a Harvard student organization known for its performance of student-authored plays of a vaudevillian and burlesque nature, awards the Pudding Pot "annually to performers who have made a 'lasting and impressive contribution to the world of entertainment.'"
“I’ll be starting in Moscow,” I explained to the girl from Maine in the seat beside mine, “and from there I’ll take the Trans-Siberian Railway east across Russia to Lake Baikal.” The girl from Maine in the seat beside mine was headed for Israel for a year abroad, though she hardly seemed prepared. She had made my acquaintance by boarding the plane with four large bags and arranging herself awkwardly amongst them in her seat, next to mine. Shortly before takeoff, the man across the aisle was kind enough to inform her of the existence of overhead bins and the space under the seat in front, and together we helped her stow her belongings.