In cleaning out a box of stuff -- exactly that, "stuff" -- that had been stored somewhere damp and musty in my parents' house for what I can guess was about 10 years, I came across a varied cross-section of papers, documents, clippings and souvenirs from college.
Packed in a Compaq computer box -- from my first laptop, you see -- old folders (from Trapper Keeper colors to Notre Dame-issued Bookstore filers) contained items from freshman year all the way to senior year. Following are some of the "treasures" that were quickly shifted to a recycling or trash pile, on account of being one of or a combination of the following: moldy, dated, rusted (from staples), superfulous or clearly the possessions of a male college student. I've got a few more things that seemed keepable that are now in a bag in the office, but I just went back to them, and they still seem a bit musty, so I might not hold onto them indefinitely. But I do want to go through them further before discarding, so I'll catalog them later, similar to Heather's ongoing My Little Pony process.
*A picture of a then-sexy (at least I thought) Helen Hunt in jeans and a white button-down, with only about two buttons in the middle fastened, leaving her belly button exposed.
*An application, printed out from the web site, to join the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR).
*A guide for the huge, groundbreaking Monet exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in the fall of 1994 or 95.
*A book of Walt Whitman poetry that I would've kept (and probably never read), had it not been disgusting.
*A series of New Hampshire postcards, one of which was written out to Pat and Bill as a thank-you note, but clearly never sent. Whoops.
*Various e-mail printouts, usually of jokes and other such forwards. I wish I could've looked through them, just to see what I thought funny then and to see who I corresponded with and when. I did catch Becky Robbins' e-mail address. Wonder where she is these days.
*A letter and poem -- well, song lyrics -- from an old girlfriend, sent after I'd dumped her. Somehow, these two pieces of paper (the lyrics were written on tracing paper) were among the most pristine and well-preserved pieces in the entire box. And they are now among the most pristine and well-preserved pieces of paper in the dumpster at the Clifton recycling center.
*All kinds of newspaper and magazine clippings, including Notre Dame sports stories, baseball pieces, Newsweek pages and Dave Barry columns.
*Flight stubs and receipts for trips home for various breaks during and between semesters. Clearly those were from freshman and sophomore years, because I had a car for junior and senior years.
And, finally, a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Desk Diary (free with subscription, natch; it's not like I'd buy such a thing) from 1997. It was in pretty decent shape, though it did have that musty smell to it, so I brought it inside only long enough to flip through the pages and see what I felt important enough to write down that spring semester (my junior year, when Bryan was abroad in London). It was the semester I came into my own, I suppose, when I was on my own to make plans and find parties and decide what to do on the weekends. I learned that some of Bryan's friends were indeed my friends, too, and that some of my best and lasting friendships were building at The Observer, and I'd still be close with some of them 11 years later.
Everything is quoted as I wrote it on that day(s).
Friday, Jan. 24 to Saturday, Jan. 25: "ND Student Film Festival." This may have been the year I went, probably with Mia, who as a Film, Television and Theater major was way into the student productions.
Monday, Jan. 27: "Ready to Wear." Must've been a showing of Robert Altman's film somewhere on campus (I didn't note the building). Because it was a Monday, it would've been in some Arts & Letters lecture hall. The more mainstream, popular campus-wide movies were Friday and Saturday nights in Cushing Hall.
Friday, Jan. 31 to Saturday, Feb. 1: "Romeo & Juliet." Campus production, I presume.
Tuesday, Feb. 4: "Suzanne." The birthday of a friend of a friend, Greg. A year behind me, Greg lived in my section his freshman/my sophomore year, and following the lead of the sophomores in my section my freshman year, my roommates and I took them under our wing. I still hear from one of them, Marc, every now and then, and I'm sure Greg would return an e-mail if I wrote him. He's is now a priest -- full-on Catholic brother or father, I presume. We should've known during his freshman year when, for Lent, he announced he was giving up, um, gratifying himself, and then continued it well beyond Easter Sunday -- and probably to this day.
Tuesday, Feb. 18: "The Maltese Falcon." As with Ready to Wear, I know I've seen it, but I can't be sure I went to this showing. Now that I think of it, this may have been the viewing schedule for a class Mia was taking, and I probably attended a handful of these with her.
Thursday, Feb. 27: "The Challenge (play)." No clue.
Friday, Feb. 28: "Inside Column." It was my day to write the page 2, open-topic opinion piece in The Observer. Somewhere, either in a box here or in one stowed away somewhere (probably damp) in my parents' house, lies a stack of Observers, nearly all of them there because I have a byline in them. Someday I want to find all the Inside Columns I wrote just to have them in one place. They were often the most enjoyable pieces to write and represented some of my best (and most "popular," in the sense that I got feedback) work.
Feb. 28-Saturday, March 1: "The English Patient." This would've been the bigger showing, at Cushing Hall. I believe I saw this at home over a break, possibly Christmas, in New Jersey. I was a big fan of it back then. I bought a copy of the double-VHS from Blockbuster, but I don't think I ever opened it. The love of the film died quickly, I think. I probably haven't seen it since one of these showings.
Monday, March 3: "Citizen Kane." I'm sure I went, because of what it is. So iconic. Loved it, too.
Thursday, March 6: "West paper." This was written in upper/lowercase, which wasn't (and still isn't) my prefered form of writing. I'm a SMALL CAPS guy; in fact, all of the entries I'm quoting from this calendar were written as such. I may have carried this desk diary in my bag and scribbled this due date in a class. Can't recall which one, or what I ultimately wrote for the paper.
Friday, March 7: "Spring Break. O'Hare 7:15 --> 4:00 bus." This was an evening flight, to San Antonio, and not an absurd morning flight that would've required me to take a 4 a.m. bus to Chicago. I remember packing in my dorm room that afternoon. A group of us flew to San Antonio, where Jen K. lived, then drove down to South Padre Island for a week. It was fun at times, particularly when we were able to get into clubs and drink (only three of the five or six of us were 21, and I wasn't one of them). At one, which may have been Charlie's (and from which I may still have a plastic cup somewhere in this house, though it's now used for cleaning chemicals), we went back several times and saw, on one night, Vanilla Ice in concert and, on another, a bikini contest. I also recall this being the Spring Break of "Wannabe," and to this day, the Spice Girls still make me think of South Padre.
Sunday, March 16: "Pop." Dad's birthday. I never call him "Pop," though.
Monday, March 17: "Vertigo." Hmm ... St. Patrick's Day. At Notre Dame. Not during Spring Break (which it was my first two years at school). I don't think I went to this showing.
Thursday, March 20: "Meet with Haugh, 2:00" and "Read Billy the Kid." The first was an appointment with an instructor/sports columnist, then for the South Bend Tribune, now for the Chicago Tribune. Good guy. Definitely helped with my development as a sportswriter. Not quite sure which class Billy the Kid was for, but it was a fun read. I wonder if I still have it somewhere. It would've come in handy during the summer of '98, when I spent some time during my road trip in Silver City, N.M., where he spent a lot of time.
Friday, March 21: "Column for Haugh - 5 p.m." and "My Antonia." Not sure what topic I chose for that column. I don't know why I would've written down "My Antonia" for a Saturday. Maybe it was a showing of the TV movie from two years earlier, which starred Doogie -- er, Neil Patrick Harris.
Monday, March 24: "I.C. - ND baseball." This is the beginning of a busy week in the planner. This must've been Notre Dame's home opener for baseball, and I'm sure I wrote a column saying, "Go out and watch!" I wonder if I was able to do that myself. And I wonder if I froze my toes.
Tuesday, March 25: "American West Midterm"; "2:00 Schmuhl"; "Meet w/ Tomasula 2:30"; "Call Larry Benjamin w/ start for internship (tell Powers)." Woah, busy day. That midterm may have involved both the aforementioned Billy the Kid and My Antonia. I don't remember Tomasula. Larry Benjamin was the internship coordinator at the Asbury Park Press. Jack Powers was a journalism professor and retired former editor-in-chief of the South Bend Tribune. He taught a great class, and I was among those he loved having, because I was really into the craft, not just into a relatively easy class (if you knew what you were doing). He passed away several years ago, sadly, though not after a long and fruitful life that included military service (I believe he was actually a parachuter, but I may be totally making that up) and about 10 kids.
Thursday, March 27: "My Antonia paper due." OK, so clearly I had a paper due on this, and the note on the 22nd may have been to make sure I finished reading it by then to give myself a few days to organize my plan of attack for the paper -- and to give me at least one weekend day to write it.
Friday, March 28 to Monday, March 31: "Easter Break." I drove home for this one, leaving sometime on Thursday afternoon and getting into Little Silver way late at night. I only told my mother about it and surprised my dad and sister. I'd wanted to surprise everyone, but I was bringing Colleen along with me (shudder) and figured I should announce that, in part because we were having dinner at Grandma's condo. It was the last time I saw my grandmother; she died in early May, during finals week. I think I moved up my last one a day so that I could fly home for the funeral, then fly back to spend Senior Week working on the final edition of The Observer before driving home for the summer.
Tuesday, April 1: "Nature in America - 'Country' - 8:30" and "Natural Born Killers." I remember reading Bill McKibbin's Nature in America (I think I even took it and a blanket out to the hills beside one of the lakes to read it out in nature, because I was in college, and you do stuff like that in college -- especially when you just spent an entire locked in dorms and class buildings and freezing your ass off on the wind-swept quads in South Bend), but I don't remember what "Country" was about. Maybe a movie. And Natural Born Killers was, I'm pretty sure now, a showing for Mia's class. I do remember watching it in some basement lecture hall.
Wednesday, April 2: "AMST Internship Due" and "2 films 7:30 Snite." This day was the deadline to submit paperwork for a fall internship with the South Bend Tribune for course credit. I got it, in the sports department, and covered mostly Notre Dame soccer, plus a swim meet or two and a fencing tournament downtown one Saturday. I don't remember what the two films were, though they started at 7:30 at the Snite Museum of Art on campus.
Thursday, April 3: "Lecture 1:30" and "Movie Lecture 5:00 126 DBRT." No idea what these were about, and it would take me a while to find room 126 in DeBartolo Hall now. I'm sure at the time, I could find it with my eyes closed.
Friday, April 4: "Dickinson Lecture 3:00 DBRT 126"; "Budget Due"; "Oil Change ICPA 3:30." I think this was the week of the Notre Dame Literary Festival, hence the Emily Dickinson lecture. The budget was for The Observer's Viewpoint department, for which I was the editor this semester. (But not come the fall, as would normally be the case, because the assistant managing editor didn't return from her summer internship in Washington -- nothing tawdry or salacious; she just got an opportunity she didn't want to pass up -- and I got that job, which is what I'd wanted all along. I still tease Brad about giving it to Maureen, even though we kind of knew there was the possibility she wouldn't be there in the fall.) I don't know what "ICPA" was, but it might've been the dealership where I took the Volvo for its oil change once or twice, until I realized that the cost of a dealership oil change wasn't worth the free car wash.
Saturday, April 5: "Poetry Reading 7:30 Hesburgh" and "Watch A League ... Death ..." The poetry reading may have been Galway Kinnel, who I remember seeing in a room at the Hesburgh Library. I think I saw Sharon Olds, too, so it could've been her. The movies may have been A League of Their Own and Death of a Salesman.
Friday, April 4 to Saturday, April 6: "The People vs. Larry Flint." I think I went.
Also, beneath the dates on this page, I wrote "Change Tires," a reminder to finally take the snow tires off the Volvo and put the summer ones back on. Or, more specifically, take it to the Sears Auto Department at the mall in Mishawaka and spend two hours wandering the stores while the car is in their care.
Sunday, April 6: "Inside Column."
Monday, April 7: "Powers Story Due" and "Career & Placement." I'm sure I got the story in on time, but I don't know what I did at Career & Placement. Lord knows they never did anything for me.
Tuesday, April 8: "Holtz Roast"; "Death of a Salesman essay due" and "Call Kate." I'm sure I got the essay in before going to cover the roast of Lou Holtz at the Joyce Center on campus. Heather and I joined forces on that one -- our first, and I think only, joint byline -- and were in The Observer offices until about 4 a.m. writing the story (and bullshitting). I just brought this up to her parents at her book release party a few weeks ago. I don't think I ever called my cousin on her birthday.
Wednesday, April 9: "DART 11 a.m."; "Davie lecture"; "Finish Antonia, read other stuff." Ah, DART. That was our automated course selection process. We had a guide with course code numbers and our assigned times, and we had to call in to select our classes. I'm sure it's all done online now. This would've been to sign up for the fall semester of my senior year, when I took only four classes because of the South Bend Trib internship. If I recall correctly, I had one class on Mondays and Wednesdays for 80 minutes (or however long two-days-a-week courses were) and three on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the same length, leaving my Fridays free and clear. I spent many a Friday both fall and spring semester senior year sleeping off hangovers while Bryan had to go to class or work in the university's public relations department.
The Bob Davie lecture was a "get to know the coach" sort of deal for the new football coach. Ironically, it came the day after the Holtz roast, which had been planned even before he "resigned" as coach.
Thursday, April 10: "Capital Expenditures Meeting 8:00"; "Fiction: Paragraph from last story." The capital expenditures meeting must've had something to do with being Viewpoint editor. The fiction paragraph was an assignment for my fiction writing class.
Friday, April 11: "Payroll due"; "Bookstore 4:00"; "Braves/Cubs; Matt's 10:30/11." Payroll was for the Viewpoint staff. Bookstore might've been the first game of the annual basketball tournament for my team, though I don't know if that was really the case, because I had tickets for a Braves/Cubs game at Wrigley Field that afternoon. We were all excited to go because Greg Maddux was schedule to pitch for Atlanta ... and the game got snowed out -- after we'd driven the two hours to Chicago. So we went to some wings place in Evanston and then drove home.
Friday, April 11 to Saturday, April 12: "Shine." I guess this was on campus, but I do remember seeing it in the theater in South Bend.
In the margin next to the previous dates I wrote, "Call Bryan." His birthday is the 18th, so I don't know why I didn't wait until the next week to call him, unless he was on a break and traveling then. I would call him from The Observer offices, because I was often there at varying hours (when he might be at his flat) -- and because I could call London for free.
Monday, April 14: "Powers editing due"; "Monk lunch 12:15." Monk was the president of the university, Edward A. Malloy. He hosted a lunch every spring for the new editorial staff at The Observer. It was the only time I met him, I believe.
Tuesday, April 15: "Fiction story due"; "Lonely Are the Brave 8:45 a.m." Who shows a movie at 8:45 a.m.?
Wednesday, April 16: "4 2-paragraph ledes for Haugh"; "Grapes of Wrath (play)." I don't recall seeing a stage production of Grapes, so maybe I just had to read one? A mystery 11 years after the fact.
Thursday, April 17: "My Antonia paper due." That was crossed out, though. "Make up columnists' [illegible]"; "Call Chicago Cubs." Even though I can't read it, I probably had to make a schedule for the Viewpoint columnists for the fall semester. And maybe I was in charge of calling the Cubs to find out about our refund for the snow-out.
Friday, April 18: "Yanks/Sox 7:05 - Leave 4 p.m." Brad, Jamie, Colleen and I went to the game at Comiskey Park (the new one, and still called Comiskey then). It was cold.
Saturday, April 19: "Chicago." Went to the Art Institute and had lunch somewhere, I think. I remember driving back that afternoon.
Friday, April 18 to Saturday, April 19: "Mars Attacks!" I didn't go.
Sunday, April 20: "Write Antonia paper"; "Read Desert Solitaire." Wow, I loved Desert Solitaire. I haven't re-read it in about eight years, so I'm overdue. Though it always makes me long for the Southwest. That last reading came when I was going out to Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl in 2001.
Monday, April 21: "Powers rewrite due"; "Some Like It Hot"; "Sign lease 1:00." With Bryan in London, I was in charge of securing our apartment for the fall.
Tuesday, April 22: "Desert Solitaire essay."
Wednesday, April 23: "SB Trib 10 a.m." I think there was an interview before getting any kind of internship. It was with a woman who'd graduated from Notre Dame, Margaret Fosmoe. I ate at Taco Bell in downtown South Bend afterwards.
Saturday, April 26: "Elizabeth Dole." On-campus lecture. Maybe I was covering it? Or had to assign someone to cover it? (In addition to being Viewpoint editor, I seem to recall now that I was an assistant News editor as well.) I wouldn't have wanted to go on my own time.
Wednesday, April 30: "Payroll due."
Thursday, May 1: "Volvo 9 a.m." Oil change or tuneup in preparation for the drive home, I'm sure.
Friday, May 2: "Haugh profile story due"; "Dole story." OK, so I guess I had to go to the lecture. For a class? Was this my profile? I certainly didn't interview Elizabeth Dole personally, and any coverage of her lecture would've run the following Monday, not nearly a week later on Friday.
Sunday, May 4: "Powers' house 4:00." Professor Powers always had his classes over for an afternoon dinner at the end of the semester. It was a good time.
Monday, May 5: "Nature final 10:30 same room." I think I took a nature in literature course. In any case, the final was in the same room in which the class met, which wasn't always the case with final exams.
Wednesday, May 7: "11:20 a.m. - Tomasula - 350 DBRT." That must've been the final for his/her class.
Friday, May 9: "West final 10:30." This is the one I had to move up a day in order to fly home for Grandma's funeral.
Saturday, May 10: "Last day of finals." I didn't have one this day regardless.
Friday, May 16: "Senior Issue Out." And with that, so were we. This put a cap on junior year. After picking up a few copies of the senior issue on campus, my car was packed and I was on the road home. I did the drive by myself, stopping, I think, in DuBois, Pa. I'd thought of trying to get to Pittsburgh for the Pirates game that night, but I didn't leave early enough and listened to the first few innings on the radio. This might've been the night of that famous fight in the Knicks playoff game that got Patrick Ewing and other players suspended for the next game, which the Knicks lost on their way to losing the series. I remember watching the game -- or at least the highlights and the aftermath -- on ESPN in a hotel room.
Sunday, May 18: "Graduation." Not mine.
Wednesday, May 21: "Victor/Victoria." Jess and I had tickets for a matinee to see Julie Andrews, but she wasn't in the matinee, so we were able to exchange the tickets for the evening performance. It was her last week in the show, so they were understanding, realizing that people were coming to see her. We killed the afternoon by getting lunch and going to a movie (I think it was Murder at 1600, the political/presidential murder thriller ... starring Dennis Miller). When we returned for the evening performance, we were told Julie Andrews was out of this one, too, and got a cash refund for our tickets. On the way back to Port Authority (we'd driven and parked there, rather than taking the train), we passed the Nederlander Theater on 40th St. -- where Rent had opened earlier in the year. We'd read all about it and knew it was next-to-impossible to get tickets. But the standby line was pretty short, so we waited, figuring it couldn't hurt. It was about 7:45. In five minutes, someone came down the line looking for a pair of standby customers. The two groups in front of us were three or four people, so we got the two tickets -- fifth row center. And they cost exactly as much as our Victor/Victoria tickets did, so it was no skin off our backs (or money out of our pockets). I still haven't seen Julie Andrews in person (not that she has returned to Broadway).
And that's where it ends. I obviously didn't use a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Desk Diary to keep track of assignments and appointments during my summer internship at the Asbury Park Press, and I may not have even brought it back with me for the fall. But now I know why I keep all my old calendars. Too bad I hardly ever use them religiously.