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Tedious Tangents

2001 in Review: During a Superbowl years ago, Apple let us know that 1984 was not going to be like 1984. 2001 was perhaps a bit more like 2001, but it was also a bit like 1984. We transferred power to a mental midget of a President who squeaked into office even after losing the popular vote. He then appointed an Attorney General who could not even win an election against a corpse. 2001 was good for corporate interests and law enforcement agencies, and not-so-good for the civil rights of ordinary citizens. Terrorists destroyed a pair of phallic symbols in New York City, killing over 3000 civilians. In retaliation the US Armed Forces have killed their own share of Afghanis, all in the name of “defending freedom” and other such bullshit. In the meantime, violence in other parts of the world has—as usual—been ignored by heads-in-the-sand Americans.

I like to think that my own 2001 was a positive experience.

At the end of March, after both Spring Break and the Graduate Student Conference, Leena Ved came to visit me in Madison. We went to Chicago, looked at bugs on campus, and had some good wine.

I played the title role in Andreas Gryphius’ Peter Squenz at the end of April. We had three Madison performances, and one performance up in Green Bay.

Towards the end of the semester I was elected GDGSA Co-President, and I took over coordination of the Grad Student Conference. The 2002 conference is titled “Text in the City: Germany and City Life.”

On June 15, 2001 I took my preliminary examinations (a two-hour oral exam). Prior to that I spent about 30 days studying ... reading about 10 hours a day. I also managed to cut my finger while slicing potatoes, and I got stitches at the UW Hospital. Mid-May to Mid-June also marked a peak in creative writing for me. I passed my exams with “distinction.”

A few days later I began my training as the Monatshefte PA (Project Assistant). On the 1st of July I officially took over the PAship. For the next two months my work focused on compiling information for the annual Personalia issue.

Back in the spring Mike, Rachel, and I, as well as Rachel’s high school friend, Matt, chose to live together in a house on Madison’s east side. Whereas Mike and Rachel moved in back in May, I moved in during July. I had a sub-letter at my old apartment for the last month of the lease. At the new house we got DSL service, and I wired the house so that there would be access from all important rooms.

The beginning of the fall 2001 semester was a “first” for me: I wasn’t taking classes, for the first time since 1980. During the fall semester I hosted two parties for grad students at our house. The first was the traditional “post picnic party” on September 14. The second was a Halloween party at the end of October for which I dressed up as an Oompa Loompa. The four of us at the house carved seven pumpkins this year. The Friday after Halloween I went to Jacob’s house for another Halloween party (reprising my role as an Oompa Loompa).

I had the pleasure of having several visits from fellow Pomona alumni this year. Back in July I heard from Christine Tai, who was moving to Appleton, WI to take a job at Lawrence University. Then in September Nate Derby and Christine both came to town; we were also joined by Willard Wilson Will III. The four of us called up Jacob Maas and went out for a beer downtown. Christine returned to Madison at the end of October; she, her friend Jennifer, and I went out towards Spring Green for the completion and deconstruction of a sand Mandala.

In addition to visits by Pomona alumni, I received emails from unexpected sources. I answered questions for a former-exchangee interested in grad school in German. I responded to several prospective and soon-to-be exchangees. A girl who was going to the 2001 World Scholar Athlete Games contacted me last spring. More interesting, however, were the emails from Lacy Wagner (from school) and the Brandau family (Gifhorn).

On my birthday (November 30) I took part in a reading theater. We read Urs Widmer’s Top Dogs; afterwards Mike, Jen, Christoph, and I went out to dinner at Wasabi. Days earlier Mike and I had spent Thanksgiving together in Madison. That weekend I also baked four pies (2 pumpkin, one berry, and one apple).

Mike and I returned to Idaho on December 17. Since then I’ve gone to one basketball game and the Humanitarian Bowl (LA Tech vs. Clemson; Clemson won 49–24), and I’ll go to a hockey game at the end of the week. On December 19 Mike and I went to see The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring; both of us enjoyed it a great deal, and I’m sure we’ll go back to catch another showing. Thus ends 2001.

Happy 2002.

—31 December, 2001