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The Dartmouth
April 19, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Reflection: Refer Here Before Asking "What's Up?"

Adrienne Murr ’25 reflects on a tumultuous fall, through the music that accompanied it

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As an overthinker with an individuality complex, I’m always looking for some witty, descript answer to “How’s it going?” I’ll be damned if I hit the one syllable “good.” Somedays, I’ll launch into an unwarranted monologue about my latest DDS hack or dire need to do laundry. Other times I’ll respond with a simple “it’s going.” My answers are arguably no more insightful than “fine, how ’bout you?” but at least they transcend the good/bad binary that reduces entire states of being into meaningless, digestible boxes. 

When I return home for the holidays, “What’s up?” is replaced with the harder-to-field “How is Dartmouth?” “Is it a good fit? Have you found your people?” I’ve given up on formulating quirky answers to this generic line of questioning. It’s easier to generalize my college experience under the homogenous blanket of “yes” and “good” than indulge in the gritty details of another uniquely tumultuous term. My fluctuating relationship with this school is too complex to delve into during Friendsgiving small talk, so I feed my friends and family the answers they expect to hear. Not that I could succinctly articulate the triumphs and pitfalls of college even if it was occasion appropriate — only the incriminating subtext of my Spotfy history could do that.

Truthfully, this term hasn’t been great. At least not “best four years of my life” great. Or maybe that description will come in retrospect, when I’m far enough removed from the emotional see-sawing of undergrad to fiend for its highs and lows. Romanticization requires distance. On a campus where everything lies within a 3-mile radius, distance does not exist. 

College is coming of age, rapidly. It’s exhilarating, but it’s not always “good.” College is unregulated independence and emotional turmoil. It’s eating dining hall pumpkin pie for dinner and bawling to Elliot Smith on the Green. I’ve lost the ability to see myself objectively on this campus. Somedays I operate under the illusion that everybody is in love with me. I’ll blast “1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins, mistaking judgment for admiration as I clack my platform boots through Blobby. Didn’t your mom tell you it’s rude to stare? 

Other days I’ll feel completely irrelevant. As if I could flee campus tomorrow to settle in a quaint cottage in the English countryside, and receive a total of six texts, one of which is inquiring about the date of the EARS final. In this equally delusional state, I’m listening to “Playground Love” by Air. Both scenarios are pitiful. Both songs belong on your queue.

I entered this term with starry eyes and a jovial playlist: The Cranberries, The Smiths, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Beatles, The Goo Goo Dolls, basically any band that starts with “the” and belongs in the opening sequence of a tastefully produced ’90s rom-com. I curated a soundtrack fit for movie moments, serendipitous jaunts through the rain and Nora Ephron-quality banter. By week five, I pivoted to a more somber vibe, dodging piles of fallen foliage to the lyrics of Nirvana and Alt-J. It wasn’t a choice so much as it was a compulsion. Now it’s week 10 and I can only stomach Frank Sinatra Christmas covers. It keeps me (in)sane. 

This fall was a series of almosts but not quites. It was relearning old lessons to the rhythm of new songs. My corresponding 22F playlist memorializes the highs (KT Tunstall), the lows (Mazzy Star) and the Beach House in betweens of the past 10 weeks. “Call It Fate, Call it Karma” encapsulates the bittersweetness of another almost, whereas “Happier When You’re Gone” transports me to a state of post-run euphoria. My most played song of the term, “Somewhere Tonight,” serves as a gentle reminder that everything is temporary — even the moments and songs we wish would last forever. 

We lie through our teeth every day, insisting our nights, weeks, terms and entire college experiences have been as simple and lovely as “good” or “fun.” The next time somebody asks me “How’s it going?” I might just tell them the truth. I walked into the shower with faux fur slippers on is how it’s going. I just dissociated through two and a half hours of “Pippin” is how it’s going. I’ve eaten three times the recommended serving size of Lindt chocolate reindeers is how it’s going. “Brown Eyes” by Lady Gaga is how it’s going, thanks for asking. How ’bout you?

You can listen to my full 22F playlist here.