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Growing older is self-realizing the poignancy of cliches: money can’t buy happiness, time heals all wounds, life is about the little things, etc. In an academic microcosm of over-achievers like Dartmouth, it’s easy to discredit the poets and hyperfixate on capital-S Success, to chase prestigious acceptance letters and five-figure salaries. But it’s important to remember that the little things count too. I’m talking cappuccino foam, salted sidewalks, “snowflakes that fall across my eyes,” flaky salt and the chorus of a heart-wrenchingly good song.
Liberal arts education is about asking the hard-hitting questions. What is gender? What is self? Is Dartmouth a panopticon? Are Marvel films ‘cinema’? Who gets to decide? Among the scholarly discourse, one intellectual inquiry has haunted me for years: To be Mick Jagger or to be with Mick Jagger?
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.
I wouldn’t rush if I went to a different school. I’m not ranking sororities off social clout. I’ll be happy wherever I end up. I’m not giving power to a system built on making girls feel bad about themselves. These are some of the many lies, or half-truths, I coaxed myself into believing during the rush process.
Left Bank Books is a bookstore for romantics. Named in homage to the bouquinistes of Paris, the shop epitomizes the beauty and adventure of secondhand book culture. Students might come to Left Bank Books for its immaculate selection of curated literature, but we stay for the whimsical atmosphere and excellent customer service. From a floral tea set, stashed between crochet gloves and an antique copy of Babar’s Visit to Bird Island, to a vintage anthology of T.S. Eliot poems, Left Bank Books is filled to the brim with hidden treasures and conversation starters.
It’s spring. April came and went, as Simon and Garfunkel promised she would, leaving me sprawled on the Green in oversized sunnies and an insufficient layer of SPF 30. Matcha? Iced. Academic motivation? Gone. We’re swapping fleece for crochet and Cage the Elephant for Drugdealer.
Ah, the sweet sound of the Dartmouth Listserv blowing up your inbox on a Monday morning. We despise the Listserv for many reasons. Most of all, we hate how it makes us think we’re more popular than we are. 35 new emails? That must be that woman emailing me back about that internship, or Hinman notifying me of the arrival of my outfit for Green Key and at least four flitzes from all the cute guys I made prolonged eye contact with in the library yesterday, right? No, unfortunately the Listserv breaks our hearts once again — it’s just the notification for the Sports Analytics meeting on Tuesday.
I subscribe to Golden Age thinking, the wistful idea that life would be better in a different era. Like the delusional protagonist of a Woody Allen film, I tend to romanticize the past to cope with an unsatisfying reality. However, unlike other — potentially more devoted — romantics, I’m not attached to a specific decade.
When I traveled home for spring break, Mill Valley, California no longer felt like mine. Maybe it was the disconcertingly hot weather or the way that my house had a distinct smoky citrus smell like that of a tasteful stranger’s, but something felt distant, removed. Most unnerving was the evident ease with which the town had run in my absence. Tam High had a new set of burnt-out seniors, toiling through the college application process; Greg had hastily hired my replacement — a perky hostess in Chuck Taylors — and my parents had adopted an only vaguely recognizable nighttime routine. Life at home had moved on without me.
As everybody struggles to craft the cleverest 22W(ittiest) caption for their end of term photo dump, I’ll be honing my 22W Spotify playlist in lieu of the traditional Instagram post. A carefully curated, digital mixtape encapsulates the blissful chaos of my 22W better than any mirror selfie or photographed pancake platter ever could.
We are approaching week eight and I am having an existential identity crisis. Said crisis was prompted by an internet essay on the commodification of womanhood. It triggered two self-realizations.
Envision this, you are perched in the middle of a classroom. Fully nude. Your Dartmouth peers are staring at your unimposed body, making observations and scribbling sketches. Maybe this sounds like a nightmare. Maybe it sounds like an ego trip. For a select group of Dartmouth student figure models, it is merely an on-campus job. Welcome to the art of figure modeling, where you get paid twenty dollars an hour to lend your body as the subject of peer artwork.
Dartmouth is a school with many quirks, the six week freshmen frat ban being one of its admittedly less charming traditions.