College Park, you used to be cool. You used to be real, man. Alario's Pizza, tattoo parlors, liquor stores... Sure, The Fe is still there, but it's flanked by chain stores like Jerry's Subs & Pizza and Linens n' Shit. You sold out, College Park. What a bummer. But I guess if you're going to charge $21K per year for out-of-state tuition, you need some shiny happy retail to offset the crime rate in PG County. "Students, walk to shopping and entertainment!*"
(*not recommended without police escort)
I felt nostalgic passing through the University on the way to my brother's dorm. There was something so freeing about college. All that independence, free time, majestic buildings and vast campus lawns. When I had enough time and the weather was warm, I'd get comfortable under a tree and nap for an hour between classes, or just watch people walk by. In the fall and winter I'd sneak into the practice rooms in the music building and get lost in Chopin until closing time. Not a bill to pay, not a reason to worry, a dozen pianos at my disposal any time of day. Sure, my roommates and I lived in squalor, but it was our squalor. Those roaches were our roaches, the filth was our filth, and we were proud.
And now it's baby brother's turn. All through dinner Mom needled him about his new life away from home. It's killing her that she can't be there to supervise. "What are you eating?" she asked a half dozen times. "Are you getting enough fruit?"
"What about girls? Are there any girls in your dorm who might be potential girlfriends?"
"Yeah, Ma," he said, "Saturday we had a wicked orgy. You shoulda been there."
Oh, stop wincing, she brought it on herself.
Dinner was tasty, but my birthday present was the real treat: I got an iPod! From my Grandma! Which is cool, but also scary because now I have to learn how to use it and the rest of the software that came with my Mac.
Perhaps I'm dating myself here, but it's been a while since I mastered any sort of recreational technology. How long? Think Mario Brothers, before they were Super. Even then I was (pardon the expression) all thumbs.
Not that I'm entirely inept: I spend every day navigating through graphic design programs that most people have never seen. (And by "navigating" I mean "stumbling blindly," but I get the job done.) Technologically (okay, generally) speaking, I've always been a bit of a late bloomer. Blame it on my parents; we were the last to get an answering machine, a microwave, Call Waiting, video games (Colecovision from a garage sale in 1989), cable TV, cellphones, high-speed Internet... My mother's had her answering machine longer than she's had my sister. It records messages clearly enough, but the greeting sounds something like, "You've reassddfhshf lsdfsdhgaskldjghasdfj. Please leave a messadjflkj afsjflksjdf beep."
But I'm not complaining! In the event of a global disaster, my family would be better equipped than most to survive in the wilderness, or at least in a world without... I'm trying to think of a funny example of essential technology here, but the best I can come up with is "all the plug-in things that make us lazy and dumb."
For now, I seem to be the last person in America to welcome an iPod into my life. If you've got tips on how to use it, I'm listening.