Saturday, May 31, 2008

And so it begins...

Well, Readers, here we are at the start of my adventure. I'm at the airport, waiting for my flight to Atlanta, followed by my flight to Israel. I have been looking forward to this with a mixture of sheer joy and barely-concealed terror for months. It cost me a lot to get here, by which I mean packed, together, and to the airport - more than I'm going to talk about in this space. But that's irrelevant. What matters now is that I'm on my way, bitches!

I managed to weed through everything I own and get the important items packed away in a corner of my living room. Lovely Sonia was kind enough to let me keep my things there while I'm away. Those of you that know me are familiar with the fact that I'm a light packer; I have only one duffel bag, checked for the trip. My computer and my book of choice both fit in the purse. I'm as ready as it's possible to be, but there's a part of me that is still freaking out.

Which is why I'm currently sitting in the Delta Crown Room sipping a glass of white wine and eating an apple. I was going to try not eating for sixteen hours, in order to avoid jetlag, but the smell of food was just too much. Mom opines, and I concur, that they do it on purpose - the same way the Med bakery must be piping the air from their ovens straight out onto the sidewalk. Dad claimed that there would be free wireless in the Crown Room. There wasn't, but he'll be the one paying for it anyway... I need to catch up on BoingBoing and Digg before I head out. I don't actually need to check the Cubs scores; the cabbie had it on the radio during my ride here. I was getting out just as Marmol struck out his third in the top of the ninth, with the Cubs ahead 5-3. I think this is an auspicious beginning, both for the Cubs season and for my trip. I think I'm back before the All-Star break... Can someone check that for me?

Half an hour until the place closes... I'm going to use the wireless while I've got it. My flight to Atlanta is at 5:30, and my flight to Tel Aviv leaves at 10:00. Pray to Cedric the God of Airline Travel that I don't crash and die, and you'll hear from me once I'm on the other side of the pond.


Thursday, May 22, 2008


Moral victory at work today. It's amazing how far that will go toward making a person feel better about life. :-)

Scav, Part Deux, and other items

Notably epic Scav items:

A zeusaphone (300 points): We built one. I don't know if you're aware of what a zeusaphone is. Wikipedia will be able to tell you in greater detail, but it involves tesla coils that vibrate at various frequencies to produce monophonic sound. Ours was the only one to win full credit. We weren't even sure that it would work. Corrigan, an experienced scavvie, and Bryce, a brand-new firstie, collaborated on it and produced something so perfect that the judges were astounded. Not only did it play the Super Mario Brothers World 1.2 theme music, but one of our team members plugged her electric cello into it and played Jupiter, Bringer of Joy. Seriously.

A monowheel (200 points): My pet project, if I could have been considered to have one. Ross, Veronica and I hacked this one together. A monowheel is a type of cycle, with an interior seat and pedals or a motor that runs an exterior wheel, which revolves around the rider. Modern ones are kind of like motorcycles. Older ones looked like unicycles inside a larger wheel, and that's essentially what we built. We stuck together two circles made of plywood, and covered the space between with sheet metal. Then we had Noah the Amazing ride a unicycle in the center. It worked perfectly.

A Bedouin wedding (point total variable): I didn't have a whole lot to do with this one, but I did help build the spit for the roasted lamb. We built a firepit in the middle of our quad, and roasted an entire lamb on a spit overnight. People slept out beside it so that it could be turned every five minutes. The judges said it was delicious.

With that kind of awesomeness, Scav victory was certain. As it turns out, we beat Max Palevsky by something in the vicinity of 750 points. I know quite a few more judges this year than I did last year, and having spoken to them, it sounds like the judgeship was pretty impressed with Snell-Hitchcock. In the words of Judge Jonathan, Army Dillo was "on fire," and did everything right. We had a stellar year this time around. Let's see if we can keep up the good work in the face of some up-and-coming powerhouses - BJ, MacPierce, I'm looking at you.

In other news, I think Scav euphoria is beginning to wear off. My mood seems to be hitting a backslide - a perverse reaction to spring if ever there was one. By all accounts, things are going well: the weather is warming up, I'm slowly but surely packing for Israel, I'm going home this weekend, the Cubs are winning. But small cracks seem to find a way to penetrate all of this warm-and-fuzzy complacency. I can feel the same old stress chewing at the corners of my mind. I can pin down a few things that are causing me to worry - I haven't reserved a storage unit yet, I'm paranoid that I won't finish packing - but nothing is bad enough to merit the life-or-death panic that I tend to feel. I know this is only the start of it, and that a few days from now I'll feel like I'm drowning. It's hard to face that inevitability, especially when I desperately need to be functional over the next week and a half. My flight to Tel Aviv is on Saturday, May 31. I don't even have this weekend to pack and plan, because I'm going home for my sister's graduation. It will be a nice escape, and a way to force myself not to think about the bad things for a few days, but I'm afraid it will only be worse when I come back. I need to develop a plan to kill these things off one by one. Alright, here goes:

- I will call up and reserve a storage unit before I go home tomorrow.

- I will use this afternoon and every afternoon next week to pack.

- I will ask Brian if he and his magical "automobile" device will help me move next Friday.

Hopefully, that will take care of it, and I can feel better about my trip, my relationships, and my life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Who's gonna win Scav Hunt?

We are, we are!!

That's right, bitches. Team Army Dillo takes home the victory. Thanks, in part, to yours truly and Team USA (Manly Con). It was epic. It was about as epic as these things come. I'm still running on Scav euphoria.

Alright, enough rambling - now for a real account.

Initially, I didn't think I was going to scav this year. I didn't really scav last year, which was very hard for me. I'm pretty dedicated to Manly Con - for my first two years, I hardly spent any time inside at all during the Hunt. I was consistently in the quad in front of the dorm, hammering, drilling, getting sawdust in my eyes. It was my favorite time of year. But when my third year rolled around, the men who had made Manly Con what it was for me were gone - Alex, Duff, and Ryan had all graduated, and wouldn't be participating. Duff was off at Carnegie Mellon, Ryan at Yale, and Alex was working. Aside from this, those of you that knew me then know that my life had hit something of a bump in the road. I was too busy trying to juggle it all back into place and not kill myself to really do Scav. I couldn't stay away entirely, so I did run out and do some Hunt-related photography - surprisingly relevant that year. In the end, it was best that I wasn't deeply involved. I scraped things together enough to finish out the year, and I felt better about having my priorities in order.

That meant, however, that when this year rolled around, I didn't feel like I had a place on the team. I just assumed that I would avoid Scav and focus on my real life. One doesn't have to be faced with Scav if one doesn't want to be - despite what people say, if you stay out of the quads, you won't typically encounter the madness. I hadn't carved out a place for myself in the new Manly Con hierarchy, and I didn't want to risk being marginalized within something that had meant so much to me before. I wasn't even living in the dorm anymore; I couldn't reasonably expect these new, enthusiastic people to know or care who I was, or to understand why I should be welcomed into the fold.

But then Scavengers happened.

Last year, the year I was out of commission, Dave Franklin - RA for my dorm - filmed a documentary about Scav Hunt. Titled Scavengers, it followed the three main teams: Snell Hitchcock, Max Palevsky, and the FIST. It showcased the enthusiasm of the Hunt, and spent a good percentage of its time on the Manly Con/Big Projects aspect of the competition. Dave had an opportunity to show his film at Doc, our on-campus movie theater. The hall was filled with riotous Scavvies. I wasn't sure I wanted to go - seeing what I missed out on last year would make my decision not to scav much more painful. I knew I would feel out of place and excluded. I would feel unmissed and unimportant. Nick convinced me to go anyway, and as it turns out, all those things were true. But at the same time, I realized how much I loved the Hunt. Even if I can't be a part of it, I love watching the Hunt and participating vicariously. I was proud of my team. I got caught up in the pathos of Dave's movie. Although it sounds like an exaggeration, believe me when I say that going to that movie turned me into a bit of a wreck.

We got back to Millikan that night, Nick and I, and went up to his room. I was mopey as hell. I wouldn't talk much to anyone; I was too distracted. I was working hard to sort out my feelings about Scav. It hurt to know that my team, that I loved so dearly, didn't have a place for me anymore, and it hurt to be reminded just how much I wanted to help that team. All the negatives of dorm life - feeling out of place and on the fringes of the "cool kids," wanting to be a core part of Hitchcock life but never really managing - were mixed up in my feelings about Scav as well. Nick noticed. Well, he couldn't help but notice; I'm not exactly subtle about my feelings.

Immediately, he pulled me over to the computer. He sat me on his lap and said, "Write to Ross. Tell him you want to be on Manly Con this year." I raised protests, about not fitting in with the team anymore, about my parents being in town, about not being able to get the time off work. He wasn't having any of it. Nick tugged the keyboard closer and looked at me expectantly - his raised eyebrows said if you don't do it, I will. And because I couldn't stay away from Manly Con, and because Nick knows that taking what I want into his own hands is probably the most effective threat he could make, I tapped out a terse email to Ross Kelly. I wasn't expecting much - the requisite, cursory, "Of course you can participate" kind of response - and it showed in the subdued wording of my message.

Within minutes, I received a reply that clinched it for me, and started a trek back to Hitchcock that I thought would be far longer than it was. Ross was thrilled to have the extra hands, and mentioned specifically that it would be great to see me around Hitchcock again. That was all it took - they missed me! Well, I was on the job. Fear not, Hitchcock - Megan is returning.

And that's exactly how it felt. I had forgotten just how welcoming my dorm was. Every step I took back toward the place was encouraged by several different people along the way. Showing up on Wednesday night before list release, I ran into people whom I thought would not have said hi to me on the street, and I received warm welcomes and "We're glad to have you!". At the captains' speeches that night, returning upperclassmen were recognized: "This is the reason we have such a great team. These people come back year after year, because Snitchcock has something special." They're right. Once you've lived there, it's hard to leave. The culture is infectious. The welcome and acceptance I received made it easy to throw myself completely into the Hunt.

This post is long enough, so I'll continue my Hunt stories later - real stories, about lightning machines and double-belled euphoniums and giant plywood wheels. But, although it doesn't seem like much, I wanted to impress upon Readerland out there how much Scav did for me this year. It reminded me that I still have a place in my dorm, with my old friends there and the new ones I met over the four days of the Hunt. And that acceptance means a lot. Rock on, Army Dillo! FUCKIN' YEAH!