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By some mishap I’ve ended up here: senior spring, less than seven weeks left until I lose student discounts and access to the Cube and the Onion — not to mention other trivial points, like lifelong friends and alumni connections and what not. Every day since the realization of my impending graduation hit has been a day of mild existential crisis, where my own identity and impact here feel like a philosophical question that even Aristotle or Socrates would break down at. In the midst of one particularly existentially stressful day, a friend-acquaintance whose friendship thus far has been limited to a single climbing trip passed by me and gave me the highlight of my day: a smile and a “Hey!”
I don’t remember when I first read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. I can picture the nine-volume paperback box set, each cover a different pastel gingham, sitting on the lower left of the downstairs bookcases as if it has always been there. I know that the first book in the series, “Little House in the Big Woods,” was read aloud in my preschool group; I would ask my mom for two “Laura braids” when she did my hair in early elementary school. Wilder’s childhood and my childhood are woven together, zigzagging across two centuries and the continental United States.
For those of you who haven’t heard of “duck syndrome,” it is a concept often applied to college students who appear calm on the surface but are frantically suffering underneath. At Dartmouth, students can struggle to juggle numerous commitments and expectations. So many seem to do it all and still have their life together. Dartmouth students pride themselves on the ability to “work hard, play hard,” but are we happy?
This column was featured in the 2018 Winter Carnival Issue.
Before my first Dartmouth winter, I’d seen snow exactly four times. Five if you count the only time it snowed in my lifetime in San Francisco: Dec. 20, 1998, (the day that holds my first memory). I’m two years old at the park with my grandma (Nana to us, although she tried to convince me to call her Aunt Birdy until I was five) and a few glorious snowflakes fall from the sky.
It’s 9:55 a.m. and you’re dashing to your 10A on a Thursday morning. The clothes you grab from your closet (or your floor) are probably the last things on your mind. When you bought that Patagonia last year, the company’s “1% for the Planet” partnership probably was not your motivation. The fact that it took 4,000 liters of water to produce those jeans you slipped on is likely not at the forefront of your mind during your light jog to class. However, maybe these truths should be.
“Oct. 18, 2016: Worked in the warehouse all morning, sorting winter jackets and shoes. Ate lunch with some new volunteers from Dover who are here for the week. We went into the camp this afternoon to distribute shoes — it was super cold and chaotic as everyone wants shoes before the demolition of the camp. There is sadly no way to give everyone everything they need. We are trying to distribute as much as possible before the demolition so we didn’t leave the camp till sundown (6:30 p.m.). Another tiring day but again surprised by how Care4Calais has formed relationships and trust within the Jungle.”
This column was featured in the 2017 Homecoming Issue.
Bzzz. I feel the familiar gentle vibration in my hand. “Your Uber is arriving now. Your driver will wait two min before leaving. Enjoy the ride!” Surely enough, the gray Honda Civic turns in from the corner, lighting the dark street with its blinding headlights like a lighthouse in the dark sea.
It’s sunny. It’s relaxed. It’s camp. It’s misunderstood by high school friends. It’s the pinnacle of Dartmouth traditions. The months-long cold has finally lifted and here we return – smiling, no less – to summer school.
This column is featured in the 2017 Commencement & Reunions Issue.
This article was featured in the Green Key 2017 Special Issue: "Awakening."
This past winter term I interned at Ambulante, an annual nonprofit, documentary film festival held in Mexico City. Mexican actors Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna founded the organization in 2005 as a way to showcase documentary film and feature documentaries from across Mexico. Every year the festival accepts over 100 films from around the world that focus on the theme of the festival. This year the festival’s theme was justice, and the accepted documentaries spoke to the complexities of what justice means and how it manifests itself through films that aim to document the lives of people, a moment or a memory. One of Ambulante’s main goals is to make documentary film accessible to everyone without economic, geographic or educational restraints. This is why most of their screenings are free and take place in community centers and national landmarks around the country.
I wrote and directed “Feminist Shakespeare (or, Unsex Me Here),” which ran in the Bentley Theater on April 29 and 30 after three weeks of exciting and chaotic rehearsals.
I’m the kind of person who has eight different desktop screens for my laptop, each with its own distinct wallpaper that inspires me to perform certain tasks or match my specific mood. But that Type A level organization fades away when I’m working with the wallpaper whose orange, blossoming rose lights my brain afire with the heat of summer suns and the rouge of a cheek just tenderly kissed. As a creative writer, everything seems to speak a lyric or hum a poetic line, whether a tree standing starkly under a white sky of snow or a crushed can of keystone outside of Rauner. You find the deepest meanings, the most intricate puzzles tucked away in the details of our haphazardly busy, iPhone-inculcated lives. Even on laptop screens.
Winters at Dartmouth are my favorite terms. Winters in general are my favorite time — there is something magical in the beginning of the year, the promise of something new and the hope for many snow days. I have been on campus every winter, and I have come to appreciate this hated term for slightly shorter lines at the Collis Center and a general acceptance of not going out on Friday nights. I have also come to appreciate how much my winters here have taught me about Dartmouth’s mythical community.
I started @curvedandcontoured as an Instagram account dedicated to makeup, feminism and body positivity, which is a feminist movement focused on improving self-esteem and body image. In particular, I do so by addressing issues like fat shaming. I have always been interested in body image, largely because I have had an eating disorder for most of my life. In high school, I lost 35 pounds and was praised by friends, teachers and family for working hard to become “healthy,” even though these eating habits were incredibly harmful to my health. Because of my eating disorder, I spent almost every moment of my life obsessing over thinness, an ideal I could never seem to achieve. I eventually started eating again, so I naturally gained a lot of weight. Right now, I weigh about 90 pounds more than I did at the height of my eating disorder, and for the first time in my life, I don’t hate my body.
A unicorn in the tech world is defined as a start-up company that is currently valued at over $1 billion. Unicorns are named as such because they are extremely rare. Here’s a number even more rare: 50 percent. On average, women make up about 15.6 percent of technical employees. That is a pretty insane statistic, and one that I hope to change.
Here’s the thing: being a woman of color was never something I thought about really being until I came to Dartmouth. Politically I identified with it, but it wasn’t until I arrived in this frankly toxic white, male, heteronormative space that I absorbed the full extent of how much being a woman of color would dictate my experience here. Although Dartmouth has many more people of color than the incredibly white town in which I grew up, its rhetoric of diversity and inclusivity only masks an apathetic at best, though often actively hostile, attitude towards those who by their mere existence challenge the rigid norms of this place.
In Tomas Tranströmmer’s poem “The Blue House” (1997), a man stands in the woods outside of his home and sees with new eyes. It is as though he were dead and suddenly flooded with sight. Before him, the house transforms into a child’s drawing. The timber is heavy with sorrow and joy. The garden is a new world awash with weeds. The walls and ceilings tell a story different than he remembers. At the end of the poem, everything falls away except for a single image: a battered ship setting sail on raging seas. Each of our lives is trailed by a phantom life, he asserts, “a sister vessel which plows an entirely different route.”