succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, June 09, 2007


I was going to say that I'm tired of goodbyes. I still haven't gotten used to not having the Canadians around, last night was Janette's going away party (though technically she's not leaving for two more weeks), Travers is likely moving in the fall, and Reese probably after Christmas. This time inevitably happens, when you're student, but I don't have to get used to it or like it.

But there's one goodbye I didn't get to say. I knew Duncan was dying. I knew for months. And I was paralyzed. Paralyzed by my sadness, by my awkwardness about not keeping in touch with Kris and Duncan while they globe-trotted, paralyzed by my fear of saying the wrong thing. By all the stupid things that we use as excuses for good intentions. For months I completely failed in my friendship to those two. And so I missed it. I missed a chance to hear his voice again, to try to make some inappropriate joke and get him to laugh.

When I got the news yesterday morning I smiled, because the first thing that popped into my head was a good memory - years ago, in Cleveland, hanging out in Kris and Duncan's ghetto apartment. I had finally decided that I was ready to partake in...a certain activity. So the three of us went to our favorite donut shop (Presti's, in Little Italy) and stocked up on sour cream donuts and sugar cookies, then went back to their place and watched anime and played guess how far away the gunshots are (I said it was ghetto). I slept over that night, but had to leave early, and slipped out in the morning without waking them. Just left a note. It's a good memory, it was a great night. It was the last time I saw them.

I thought about them everyday, included them in my nightly prayers, even when I wasn't really sure what I was praying for. I'm too scientifically-minded to genuinely ask for miraculous recovery, and I was hesitant to ask for more time if that meant more time in pain, or more time spent not himself. So most nights I just asked God to be with them, to somehow make this some tiny fraction less awful. But I figure most days Kris and Duncan did that themselves. They're good like that. Hopelessly, beautifully in love, all the time. And happy. I know they made the most of their days and enjoyed them as much as possible. I don't quite have Sid's faith - I can't not be sad. But I can try to celebrate the life.

Friday, June 08, 2007


I've been trying to figure out what to say. Composing things in my head as I go about my day. But Sudiptya beat me too it, and as usual, did better than I ever could have. And anyway, I just keep crying all over the keyboard.

Duncan was a great guy. He's going to be missed, as much by me as anyone, and I can understand why people are upset and saddened by his passing. As much as I wish he were still around, though, I can't feel any sorrow about the way he used the time he had. I mean, c'mon, this guy LIVED life. Look at what he did in the same amount of time as the rest of us?

The boy was a skateboarding fiend. He turned on, tuned in, and drop out (sorta) on so many drugs that he'd make Tim Leary sober up. He owned a music label, beat the CWRU system and got a CS degree, was an underground DJ of some repute, knew when he found a wonderful woman and MARRIED her when most of us were still scared shitless of that sort of responsibility (their five year anniversary was last Friday!).

He was a capoeira maniac, his dragon-style kung-fu* was a fine match for my shudo-khan karate when we were both drunk, he taught english in Japan, damn near learned a language for each time I masturbate in a day, enjoyed a fine drink, traveled the world, worked in medical devices like a real engineer, was an incredible musician, and even managed to go to fuckin' OXFORD.

Normally, I feel a certain regret when someone young dies; I feel like there's a missed opportunity there that someone who's older, and has lived a full life, doesn't suffer from. In Duncan's case, how can anyone feel that? That incredible bastard had an amazing life, and did so much that he makes my pathetic existence seem bland by comparison. I'd go so far as to say I envy him, and would be tempted to trade lives even knowing how his ends.

Duncan's flame might have burned short, but it burned fucking bright... and I'll be drinking to him tonight, laughing as I do. Somehow I don't think I'll be drinking alone.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Why didn't I know about this? Creating Balance in an Unjust World: Conference on Math & Social Justice. Check back later this month for info on next year's conference! (Heebie - we should totally volunteer together, yeah?) (discovered via many clicks through the latest Carnival of Mathematics)

About a third of the way through section A of this morning's New York Times I was confronted by a one page ad taken out by the NCAA. In giant font it read, "For a team very few people stood by, how about a standing ovation?" and later, in smaller font, referred to the team as an "...outstanding - not to mention, upstanding - group of young men." Now, the case against the Duke lacrosse team was handled horribly, the local DA acted unacceptably, and women who falsely claim rape are nearly as bad (imho) as rapists, since they provide additional reasons to disbelieve truthful victims. NEVERTHELESS, these boys were known to host drunken nights of debauchery during which they would pay women to take off their clothes. This may be legal behavior, but it is certainly not outstanding or upstanding, at least not in a society that values women. Oh, wait...