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I'm not sure how to catch up on 18 years of life, but Jenn and I gave it a valient effort tonight.

Jenn Chase is in the area for a few days for a bio-chem conference, and graciously took the train down to Palo Alto to meet up with me for dinner. Having not kept in touch with my H.S. crowd, and not sure what to expect, I excitedly drove up, then parked in the wrong area. I wasn't sure I'd recognize her, but was clearly an idiot in that uncertainty. She had the same smile and gestures, longer hair (curlier than I recall), but the same color, and totally the same mannerisms. How I thought I could miss her I have no idea.

We talked about the whole group, how everyone has kept in touch (except me! I disappeared from their perspective). The various traditions they've done (every wedding has a photo of Jenn held horizontally by the boys), and how she earned the nickname "Bilure" if only for one wedding.

We talked about kids (Jeff 5, Paul 3, Brad 2, Scott 1), and how neither of us were particularly gung-ho on having them (she especially not so as a single parent, "Sometimes you just need a neutral party to tell you, yes, that small person is going psycho, just ignore her"), and how she helped several girls during their senior year, college-prep time.

We talked about families and how her grandparents are still alive, her parents are trying out a dual (summer/winter) house arrangement to see if they like it. How housing prices have increased, and yes, I live in the most expensive area in the country and she does. How she's visited every state but Hawaii, and did she want to go to Hawaii in three weeks with me and my mom? How she has a sister in Colorado, and my brothers are dispersed across Arizona (and how we can't seem to get away from the name Ch|Kris).

We talked briefly about high school and how I went to what would have been my tenth reunion had I stayed in Indiana. How I had grown past needing the approval of all of these former classmates, but so many others hadn't. We talked about how some of the group had gone to some of our reunions, but I hadn't gone to any because I keep getting invited to the wrong ones.

We talked about C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity and how I had written an essay on the book for Mr. Lutz's class. And how Jenn remembered that essay because it was for honors credit (we could take a regular as an honor class by doing extra work, earning a 4.5 on a 4.0 scale if we did well), and that I got an extension through the Christmas break on the essay, but that she wasn't able to get an extension or the honors credit because it required 8 of 10 extra essays in a specified time frame and she had already missed three deadlines, so couldn't get the credits.

How my 5.0 semester our senior year (on a 4.0 scale) propelled me from 12th in the class to 6th, and that if anyone could be bitter, it would be Scott, who dropped from 10th to 11th on my jump. Jenn commented that indeed, it didn't matter at that point, since she was 5th in the class (Alon, Bender, Tina, Roger, Jenn, me, others), and therefore no longer bitter about it (where the bitter part was in jest, but she did remember that Lutz gave me that extension, so there's something still there).

We briefly talked about philosophy and the theory by some Ha- philosopher that said public opinion and social contracts developed in the last few centuries, but public mass media destroyed the public's sense of self by telling the public what to think.

We talked about Oxford and Jeff visits to Yale, various Bio-chemistry techniques, sick rats vs. healthy and her writing her dissertation; that there's no snow where she lives, but there is at least one big tournament there a year.

My stories tended to be much more long winded. So much so that I often forgot the point of the story, but usually managed to recall it after backtracking through our thoughts. I talked a bit about Caltech, lost books, Amerigon, Wook, and my work on Antz and Shrek. And my missed trip with Paul last year, casually mentioning his not-so-sane parents (clearly my opinion, mind you!) and why I lost contact, my brief attempt at contact with her a decade ago (which she recalled, yay!), and Kris's meeting up with Matthew after many years, including the reason for the falling out and the communications that restored the friendship.

I'm unbelievably happy she travelled down to visit me, if only for a few hours. Time to start planning a trip to Idaho.