Friday, July 06, 2007

Lest auld acquaintance be forgot (Part III)

The blog is a good example of how easy it is to keep in touch other than phoning or writing. My sister Gabriella does so through a Flickr page; my sister Nicki’s partner Laura does so through MySpace. My pals at work (I work in a small room with three other reporters, all younger) all have Facebook pages and keep tabs with each other that way. Because they’ve bugged me so much about it, I now have a page too, but haven’t the faintest idea what I’ll do with it. I had a MySpace page, but having to have (company founder) “Tom” as a friend irked me, even if he was there to help, as did the number of solicitations you get from people wanting to be your “friend” just long enough to sell you something. Still it’s annoying that you can’t contact other people on their MySpace pages unless you’re a member. My cousin Dave has a content-heavy page, and I was tempted to leave a comment, but didn’t feel like signing in.

Which brings me, in the most god awfully-long roundabout way possible, to the point of this entire post. I was working late one night, not too long ago, when a song came on by the band The Cure and the name of the girl who introduced me to the band, M.J. Slazak, popped into my head.

M.J. was on the staff of the yearbook with me in college. We weren’t really friends, but had nothing against each other either. She was a bit punk, or Goth, or whatever they called it then, always wearing black and such, but she struck me as a kind of conservative in nature as well. I seem to recall her smiling a lot.

So, this song comes on and I think, “Whatever happened to M.J.?” And so I did a Google search or two and her name popped up, responding to something on someone else’s blog. I dropped her a note in response, bookmarked the page and put it out of my mind.

The other day I was cleaning up my browser links at work and ran across “The stream behind the house.” It tingled in my brain that I must have bookmarked it for some reason, but I could remember why, so I clicked on it. It took me to that same post of mine, but below it was one from M.J. herself, reacting in shock and surprise to my out-of-the-blue note.

I responded with a few words and reacted to her comment that she’d have to check out my blog by figuring I’d better get back on the blog again and make some posts. Hence, this very, very, very long post which, on advice from crazyjohn, I’ve broken up over several days).

I guess if I’m to try to keep in touch with long lost friends and acquaintances, I’m going to have to make myself more Internet-visible. And a call to George and Jeff wouldn’t hurt either.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Lest auld acquaintance be forgot (Part II)

My best friends, growing up, Jeremy Riga, and George and Jeff Burnett, I almost never get up with. I can’t go into cool stories about growing up with them -- it would fill a book. They probably feel like I abandoned them. For me, the problem is either (1) I never feel like I have anything new to report, and as likely, (2) I feel like I haven’t succeeded yet. I have a successful marriage, which isn’t the easiest thing, I suppose, but I’ve been struggling to get by (financially) for some time. My problem has always been one of procrastination. Instead of going out and making my fortune, I always seem to think a magic caravan is just going to appear such as in that tale in the Arabian Nights (I think). On that note, I do buy the occasional lottery ticket. I know my chances of striking it rich aren’t too good that way, but as the old joke goes, chances improve if I buy a ticket.

Moving to North Carolina really severed my relationships. To follow it up, I took a job as a reporter. You meet a lot of interesting people in that job, but make few friends. The friends I have here I met working at non journalism related jobs. But the advent of mainstream e-mail and, of course, the Internet has made it so easy to not only keep in touch with people who live far off and who’ve drifted away, but it’s made it possible for you to find them again, should you care to do so.

I occasionally do.

I’d like to keep tabs with a guy named crazyjohn, which was his blog handle while he wrote one. He did it for exactly a year, and had a good number of adherents. We all met at an end-of-blog party at his basement apartment in Chapel Hill. The assortment of people was so odd -- not the people, most were pretty down to earth -- because their only connection was they were either friends of this guy or read his blog (and lived near enough to stop by). Crazyjohn started the blog to meet an end -- he is heading off to graduate school soon to learn to be a better writer and he wanted to get in practice.

That gave me the idea for my blog, to get back into what I call personal writing, that is, non corporate or journalism writing. I’ve been keeping in touch with the occasional friend or family member with the blog, better so than e-mail. But with all the writing I do at the paper, I don’t blog so much anymore, sort of defeating the purpose.

Of course, I could easily do it more, if only I could keep the length down to a few paragraphs or even sentences, but that is difficult -- it’s just not my style. Maybe I can make it my style. Obviously, this isn’t a good start.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Lest auld acquaintance be forgot…

Part I
(The post is too long, so I've broken it up into three parts, which I'll post over the next couple days)

I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to keep up with old friends and acquaintances.

I remember this group of pals I had in fifth and sixth grade at City Honors Middle School. The middle and high school were actually one building, but the big kids took classes on the 2nd and 3rd floors while the young kids were consigned mostly to the 1st floor. In the basement were the lockers and cafeteria and I recall sitting at a table with three guys, Martin Krebs, a friendly kid with a wide grin; Nick Leuer, a red haired kid with a peaked nose, who always had that nose in a book during lunch; and this large black kid named Eddie, I think, though I don’t remember his last name.

That’s because he got kicked out of school, he said, for riding up and down the elevator. The elevator was one of those old-fashioned things, built for room for just one or two people, with a cage, if I remember correctly. It went all the way up to the attic, which I never saw and was off limits. The old hulking building had been used as several types of schools, and even had once had a pool between the 3rd and 4th floors, over the auditorium, if you can believe it, which was filled in after a girl drowned. That was the legend anyways.

So the elevator was off limits, but Eddie wasn’t one to do what people said, unless what they said generated some kind of fuss. That’s why we liked him, of course. He was strong and when we discovered he could smash an apple with his fist, it was apple smashing time thereafter. One he smacked on the edge and it took off in an arc and dropped straight down in Nick’s cup of chili. Once, we said, “Do this one, Eddie!”, but he was sitting at the end of the table by the wall and when his fist came down on that apple, there was suddenly applesauce all over the wall. And a teacher standing nearby.

So, one way or another, Eddie got himself kicked out of school, and now he’s only a cool memory in my mind. Nick and I went on to graduate from City Honors High School, meaning we just never left -- same building and all. It’s an acclaimed school, but I don’t know if that’s happened since I left, meaning I’d never get in if I was a kid now, or if it was that good back then. I’m no dummy, but I never did apply myself, but there was no test or waiting list for the high school if you had graduated the middle school.

Martin left too, I can’t remember why exactly, except I know he moved to a little town called Springfield (or was it Springville?), about 30 minutes south of Buffalo. I must have had his address, and years later I found it and sent him a post card and we got together once or twice to catch up. He’d become a photographer for the local newspaper and always kept an ear open for sounds of a fire engine or ambulance siren, which he’d follow to its location (like I said, it was a small town). He said once he followed it all the way back to his own street, to find a car had driven into his family’s front porch.

It’s been awhile since I tried to get up with him again. The same goes for other old friends such as Chris "Juice" Jerzewski, whom I used to hang out with in late high school. He built model rockets and we’d go to the park to launch them, some never to return to the earth again -- that we could find anyways. He went to Case Western, which is an army school, or something. It’s been a long time since I tried to call him. Nick Leuer I have no idea what happened to. If I still lived in Buffalo, I’d probably run into him or mutual friends every once in a while -- the town has that big-little city type of atmosphere, where it’s easy to bump into old friends, acquaintances (and enemies). According to Google, there’s a Nicholas Leuer who was to marry a Jill Coppola (a good Italian name) in May 2004. I don’t recognize the church name, but then again, there’s like 600 churches in the Buffalo area.