Hold on to your hats, my blog reading public. This is going to be a long post where I will reveal many things about myself. Be patient. If you aren’t patient, you can scroll down and just see the photos without reading all of this stuff.
Recently, the blog celebrated its tenth birthday. We’re nearly in the teen years!!!!!! I always thought I shouldn’t ever reveal anything about myself on this blog but I have over the years, revealed things here and there about myself and the world hasn’t stopped spinning and the sky has not caved in so I guess its safe.
So here I’m going to unfurl the story of the Riot family, actually they have another name but I’ll just keep that to myself. The Riot family is my second family and I will talk about how they came to have that great title.
Let’s go back. The year is 1994. There’s this teenager and she goes to high school in the suburbs of New York and an unhappier creature you have never seen in your life. She’s counting down the days until school ends and she can be free. Who was that teenager??? Me. And the place was Valhalla, New York, a place best seen in the rear view mirror of your car.
High school was a self contained ecosystem, to which someone had created the rules when I wasn’t around. I was left to spend the next few years trying to figure them out, while they kept getting changed on me. Oh you wear blue jeans? We prefer stone washed. You listen to rock?? No, we only listen to pop. And so on and so on and so on.
I lived with the hope that one day I would exit this ecosystem forever and be with people who were like me. People who liked to study. People who studied because they were actually interested in the world. I had hoped college would be the place for that.
I studied really hard in high school. Most teenagers fight with their parents about doing their homework. My main fights with my parents revolved around their insistence that I take classes like physics and chemistry that I knew I would get bad grades in and by bad grades, I mean anything under 90 percent. One social studies teacher gave me a 93 on a paper I wrote and told me to do better the next week. Yeah, this sounds border line nerdy, which it really was, but I studied hard for two reasons. First, because I am actually naturally curious about the world and second because good grades would get me into the college of my choice and out of the godforsaken Valhalla.
When it came for college choosing time, I visited a lot of schools and none of them really struck me as the place I wanted to study. I wasn’t even really sure of what I wanted to study. I thought something politics or historic or something along those lines, but I wasn’t even sure.
I visited a lot of colleges in New York state with my parents, as we lived there at the time. If there was a school I wanted to go to, it was New York University. There was the University at Albany, the last school on earth I’d ever want to go to. I kinda even hated visiting there. I’m sure you can see where this story is going at this point.
So when it came to college selection time, I got into almost every school I applied to, even NYU. My GPA was really good, above 3.7 but my SAT scores were lackluster. I still got into the schools that were in the top hundred in the United States. Now here’s the thing. My parents made too much money for me to get a scholarship and my SAT scores weren’t good enough to be offered one, so while I got into all of the schools I applied to, my father made the decision where I would go to school and that school was Albany.
I graciously accepted the decision and thanked my father for his foresight into the treacherous world of student loan debt. NO WAY. No, I was extremely angry at my father for choosing this school for me. I yelled at him, we had really bad fights at the time and the college selection process turned into a war between my father and I that went on for years after I had actually gone to college. Inside though, it felt like all of my hard work of maintaining my GPA and being a good student was for nothing if I was to go to this school that was so low on the academic scale.
So off I went in the fall of 1995 to college. This scene, I remember like it was yesterday. First, I had been expecting for years to go to a school with a brick campus covered in ivy. Instead, I went to a concrete campus that it was rumored had originally been intended to be a prison in Arizona!!!!! I was to live in something called Indian Quad in the high rise Mohawk Tower on the 16th floor. I remember all of this so clearly. We arrived with my loads of stuff, just to be told that we’d have to wait about four hours to have my stuff loaded onto a cart and taken in an elevator up to my new room.
The time finally came and I went up and met my first direct roommate, a girl named Oda. We were to be living in a suite with seven girls sharing three rooms. I’m not going to smear Oda up here, but we were very different. Oda and I were to share the smallest of the three rooms. Oda listened to Mariah Carey and I listened to Nirvana. When you are 18, that makes a huge difference. Now I’m friends with people and I have absolutely no idea what kind of music they like at all, but back then, meeting someone who listened to Mariah Carey meant an automatic negative in that category. Oda also used to log on to the internet all day and all night and type on her computer keyboard, all day and all night. Needless to say, there were a lot of sleepless nights to go around.
There were five other girls who shared the living space with us. Among then was one girl named Jenn and another one named Rupali. I kind of sat and talked to all of the girls there and for a while, we did get along, until all the personalities came out. Rupali and I butted heads a lot over different things. Jenn, I felt like there could be a friendship with but I had to tread carefully.
We all shared that living space from September until May of 1996, when we all dispersed to our separate corners of the world, or in that case, New York state. I went to visit Jenn and her family in Queens over Christmas vacation and that’s when I got to know the rest of the Riot Family. Her father, whose name is Bill, but who is always known as Bilbo, was this sarcastic, funnier version of David Letterman. His idea of fun was talking to his dog and saying that the dog loves him more than his family. Jenn’s mother was always sweet, just like my mother.
The friendship went through its bumps. Jenn and I were and still are on opposite sides politically. That led to a lot of clashes. Jenn and I have known each other for 22 years and there were plenty of times when I thought that the friendship was as good as dead. We sometimes went years without speaking to each other.
Then this funny thing happened. Jenn moved to Pennsylvania to be closer to her family and she started a family. Her sons took a liking to me. I’m the adult that loves to play with them. I take them skiing. They love quizzing me on what languages are spoken in different countries and I’ve kind of become a bit of a star attraction over there!!!!!!
Now there’s a new baby in the Riot family, a little dark haired sweetheart who is adored by his brothers. The baby has 62 babysitters at any time, meaning he is held and played with constantly. While I played with him, I decided to read Zbigniew Brzezinski’s obituary to him from the New York Times. I thought it was time that the baby learned a bit about Cold War politics. I’m sure the baby appreciated it.
Well and the friendship with Bilbo and Jenn’s mom has also deepened. Bilbo has become someone I can go to for life advice. My own family is always great and I will always love them, but sometimes its good to just let someone else know about your problems, concerns or ideas and to have another sounding board.
Bilbo’s sarcasm knows absolutely no end. He came over and cooed over the baby, while commenting on how fat his legs were. On another visit, I heard a story about how he injected watermelons with vodka or tequila. I told him I wanted to start a Twitter page for all of his sayings, but Bilbo turned me down flat. He wants to deny the world access to his premium content!!!!!!!!
I guess what I can say here in conclusion is that sometimes it isn’t immediately obvious that a long standing friendship would form with someone. At this point I’ve known Jenn for longer than I didn’t know her and we’re kind of like sisters as I don’t have any siblings of my own.
Well, anyway, if you read down this far, you deserve some photos. Here’s the Riot gang on full blast: