On a wheeled horse I ride. i.am.rollerman

Archive for the ‘college life’ Category

Sore wa koko ga Itai

In college life, Spinal Cord Pain on October 8, 2010 at 9:56 pm


Exiled from PBurgh, on A Steel Horse I Ride....I am Gaijin hear me roar


A strange title for a blog post and something I am all too familiar with now.

The year is 1982 and I am “…a Gaijin on a motorcycle in Japan…”   The Judge’s words, not mine, during my court appearance to settle the civil damages.   I was a strange person in a strange land experiencing a strange sensation, a sensation that is still with me.

On my 100 cc Kawasaki motorcycle, I am late for Kokusai Bijinesu class.  I signal to turn right (a left turn in Amerika Gasshukoku). Speed forward ten seconds. I am wrapped around a stop sign spitting out a Pokey Stick.

“…I can’t breathe.  I’m late for class.   Did I just sh*t myself?  Did I turn off my space heater?  I hope she’s not pregnant. What is that running down my back? Damn it, I ripped my sweatshirt…”   Just some of my thoughts as I lay in a pricker bush waiting for assistance.

I am taken to a hospital.  The Doctors don’t speak English.   They don’t even speak Engrish.   I had more than the wind knocked out me.  I am missing nearly all of my Japanese.   Sore wa koko ga Itai, is all the Japanese I can remember and repeat as I point to my back, my chest and then my nose.  (It means I hurt here, sweat mercy crap..)

Damage Assessment: Four broken ribs, two jutting from my back, a cracked sternum, oku no stitches and a broken nose.

Destroyed: 100 CC Kawasaki Motorcycle and one pair size 32 JC Penney’s Brand white male briefs, no longer white.

Long Term Damage Assessment: Lower Torso Nerve damage.

I recover quickly from my rib and chest injuries.  I don’t have a choice.  Even onara o suru is painful.  I have one no one to take care of me and I need a motorcycle for transportation.   You’re not in Tokyo Dorthy-san, “you’re in the jungle baby.”  This is the boonies of the main island, think upstate New York.

The Judge awards me a replacement 150 cc Yamaha (score! 50 cc more! schwing!)  and  words that I remember to this day “…あなたは日本でバイクに乗って、外国人であるが、この事故の障害で50%となっている。

Translation: “You being a foreigner, in Japan and on a motorcycle are 50% at fault for this accident.”

My dreams of becoming a Japanese Defense Attorney… gone.

Translation key:

oku no: Many, as in too many

onara o suru: To break wind, not the Bob Seager song.

More to follow.


Why I Hate James Taylor

In college life on September 28, 2010 at 12:00 am

A Juice Head

During my junior of college at Pburgh, I lived in the dormitory next to three freshman, Chris, Julie & Karl. They were an dubious grouping of roommates, Chris

Chris at the Dorm's Halloween Dance

an innocent small town boy, reeking off virginity “Juice, ” not the jailed former Heisman winner, but rather a 17 year-old with long red stringy hair, beard and an ample supply of facial acme. Juice looked more in his mid 20’s and not unlike a follower of Phish or the Greatful Dead.

The third roomie was a tall lanky dirty blonde haired kid from Nassau County, who looked like a younger version of David Johansen from New York Dolls fame. Karl never got familiar with the term “inside voice” while in Kindergarten. I never knew if Karl was mildly retarded, hard of hearing or just liked to hear himself speak. Karl didn’t speak Karl bellowed. Little did I know that my Fetus #3 would have the same vocal quality accentuated by the hardwood floors throughout my home.

Carl resembled a younger, retarded David Johansen

Karl & Juice quick became bong buddies, becoming the floor’s exclusive sponsor of “buck a buzz night,” with a rolled up beach towel permanently taped to the bottom of their dorm room door.

During the first semester that year I lived with a 26 year old Junior from Warwick, NY in his sixth year at Pburgh. Trip (named changed to protect him from his current employer) was a nice enough guy but he had one glaring attribute, he was a flaming alcoholic, with all of the physical characteristics and personal hygiene habits of a person who’s life is dictated by its obsession for alcohol. Trip’s pores emitted the stench of someone on a semester long bender. In addition Trip was not the biggest practitioner of oral hygiene. When he opened his mouth the stench of plague waifed throughout the room.

Who would have thought that working here would have prepared me for living with Trip?

Fortunately for me I had worked for several summers at awaste treatment facility and possessed a strong gag reflex.

During his first week in the room Trip spilled liquid detergent on the tiled floor. He never bothered to clean it up. When it came time for Trip to move out, that area of tile was now eaten away with the concrete sub-floor now visible.

Now you’re probably beginning to wonder what this has to with my disdain for James Taylor, but I’m getting to that.

As the semester progressed, the frequency of my neighbor’s “Buck a Buzz Night” festivities changed from every Friday and Saturday night to evening night except Monday. One week Juice and Karl scored a quarter bag of the chronic, and were hosting more than 20 people per evening in their room. Now I’m no prohibitionist and the boys did have the right to fail out of school on their own, but one evening their hosting services crossed that line.

The dormitory that I lived in had four floors (including the basement) with two wings per floor. On each floor there was a Men’s wing and a Women’s wing with shared bathroom facilities in the middle of each floor. Most of the guys on my floor would keep their toiletries in the bathrooms on the ledge between the sinks and the mirrors, me included.

Home of the triple S and where my toothbrush was violated

One morning I entered the bath facilities to perform the three “S’s.” After showering and shaving I found that my toothbrush was not in its normal spot. I eventually found it on the floor under the sink. The toothbrush bristles were stained brown with what looked like tobacco leaves stuck to the handle. I picked it up and put the toothbrush to my nose. I knew that fetched smell, it was bong water.

Conveniently and to the blind eye of Jim the RA (Resident’s Assistant), said bong still sat on the ledge full of its putrid liquid. It stunk worse, than, as my kid’s say “Ass.” I knew that bong. It was familiar. It was Juice and Karl’s bong.

I was angry. Frankly I felt violated and ready to be on Oprah. Someone had to pay. I picked the bong up and walked it down the hall and knocked on Chris, Juice and Karl’s door. Chris opened the door. Pizza boxes and Red White and Blue Brand 16 oz. beer

This is an actual photo of Juice sleeping in his dorm bunk

cans were strewn across the room’s floor. Juice was asleep on his stomach and shirtless in his bed. He was covered with a coat of red body hair, reminding me of a buddy at home’s Irish Setter. I had the sudden urge to throw a tennis ball and stick.

Carl was also in bed, sleeping in the top bunk with a matted gold stained blanket. It looked like someone had used the blanket for changing the oil in their car and then using it a surface for making glazed donuts.

There Carl lay under that grubby blanket. Next to him lay the bony freshman from the second floor. I woke Carl up and held the bong in front of his face. “Dearest Carl”, I

Brett from Ronkonkoma had early stages of Glacoma and fortunately had a perscription...

said, “might this be yours?” “Hey Man” Carl bellowed “What are you doing with my bong?” I said “I’m emptying it.” With that, I poured the rank fluid over Carl and his bony bed friend, soaking him and his monkey spanker blanket. …and with that, I left the room.

That week progressed on our floor, with no apparent repercussions to Carl’s Baptism by Bong Water. Eerily quiet sans of the normal “Festival of the Buds.”

My dorm room bunk is situated right on the wall that abuts their room. I overheard (actually who couldn’t hear Carl’s slurred roaring) the roomies were planning a trip for that weekend to one of their buddies’ colleges south of Pburgh. So on that Friday night, Carl, Juice, Chris and the Bony Freshman from the second floor left for an unnamed college due south.

More seeds where processed on this album cover than in the pages of the Farmer's Almanac

I settled into my room, anxious to nurse a six pack of 16 oz. PBR’s and then head downtown. I was looking forward to having a weekend without the sounds of “Gorillas in the Mists” coming from next room. No scraping sounds of marijuana seeds and twigs being separated from the buds on the inside of a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon album. No sounds of empty beer cans scraping across the floor. No cackling from the Freshman from the second floor about “how f*cked up I am!”

Gone were the sounds of teenage drug abuse, replaced by the musings of a record player, with its toning arm pulled back. Pulled back in order to have the album repeat itself over and over and over again.

70's phonograph with a toner repeat arm

Back when James Taylor still had his hair he penned a ditty named “Carolina In Mind.” Carolina was now in my mind, repeating itself every four minutes. After about the 15th time, you’ve got the lyrics down. “…In my mind I’m goin’ to Carolina, Can’t you see the sunshine, Can’t you just feel the moonshine. Ain’t it just like a friend of mine It hit me from behind Yes I’m gone to Carolina in my mind…” I know it now verbatim. I actually heard it streaming itself through my head during my six week coma in 2006. Like nails running down a blackboard or a Styrofoam cooler squeaking in the back of your the parent’s car as you drive down to the Jersey shore, this sound has been etched in my mind.

Being forced to camp out in Jennifer from Montreal’s room that night before I had to return to the room to retrieve my meal card. That retched bray of “Going to Carolina” had now repeated itself 360 times (24 hours *60 minutes / four minutes, the length of Going to Carolina), echoing down the hallway. Somehow, this must be stopped.

I tried their door, and sure enough it was locked. I next tried their window, which they normally left open because the room was situated closets to the dorm’s front door. They played the role of gatekeeper for those returning from elsewhere and forgetting their keys. It was locked as well.

We next tried our RA Jim, who was normally as useless as tits on a bull. Every time you needed Jim he was either in his room smoking his own stash, making the beast with two backs or telling us “to work it out for ourselves.” …and as usual, no Jim.

I finally was left to find our Dorm Director Jeff, who lived in the bowels of the basement, in the room next to the washers and dryers. Fortunately for us Jeff had recently ended a relationship with a girl who loved James Taylor. Jeff was more than happy to reset the circuit breaker in Chris, Juice and Carl’s room. No longer was James Taylor going to Carolina, even in his mind.

The Hedoism which was Harrington Hall

Post Script: At the end of my junior year I moved out of Harrington Hall. My dreams of become a RA (Resident Assistant) shattered, like the plate glass window in the lobby of Harrington Hall, the one that I threw that guy from the third floor through (that’s another story). That following year I attended college at the University of Tsubuka in Japan.

The Author in head gear in his 6'x8' Japanese Dorm Room

With it arched Gothic ceilings Carl's voice carried all the way to Penn Station

I never saw Chris or Juice after that year, although I’ve seen many that resemble Juice. I did see Carl one afternoon in the summer of 1984 at Grand Central Station. (I was working for Mitsubishi Shoji at that time and living in Astoria). Carl actually saw me first from across the train lobby and began yelling “F*ckin Ehmann,” as many heads turned expecting to see someone having some sort of spasm or fit on the station’s granite floor.

Carl was carrying that same green knapsack that I saw him drag-in in his freshman year. Carl was headed back to Plattsburgh for his senior year, trying to catch the 2:00 p.m. Amtrak to Montreal. I gave him a hug and wished him well. During our embrace I felt the outline of that same bong in that ratty green nap sack.

During my post college years, I had several jobs that required business travel, fortunately none to Carolina.