TTLG: Good Grief
This article is featured in the 2022 Commencement & Reunions special issue.
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This article is featured in the 2022 Commencement & Reunions special issue.
Well folks, this is it. The last editors’ note from the 178th Mirror Editors of The Dartmouth. We think that this final issue calls for breaking the third wall, so here goes: Hello! We are your editors, Novi Zhukovsky and Christina Baris. In case you were curious, we divide up these little notes by alternating week by week; this issue, it’s Novi writing. Well honestly, “writing” is a strong word; I am typing clunky strings of words, only to erase them once again — trying to write perfect sentences, perfect enough to reflect this paper, to display the love and hours we’ve put into these pages. It's an impossible task, and yet, like Sisyphus, I hopelessly continue to put words on paper, in search of a new arrangement that feels right. Maybe, for the first time, I, an editor, am without words.
Well, looks like we spoke too soon! Spring has, indeed, not sprung here in Hanover, as evidenced by this week’s heavy snow squall. Leave it to the unpredictable New England weather to keep us on our toes. But there is something almost encouraging about a late-winter snowstorm — something that screams, “You haven’t seen the last of me yet!” Maybe it’s the nostalgic senior in us that has us deriving meaning from meteorological terms we only just learned of (seriously, what even is a snow squall?), or maybe we’re onto something.
Although our favorite groundhog Punxsutawney Phil dependably predicted in early February that we would have six more weeks of winter, with the temperature in the high 30s and 40s, it almost feels as though spring has sprung here in Hanover, New Hampshire. Winter carnival is long behind us, and we’re approaching the final stretch of the term. For us seniors, leaving behind our final Hanover winter with all of our fingers and toes may be a relief. But at Mirror, we can’t help but be a little bit sentimental about our final frigid weeks.
Well, we’ve had quite the turbulent start to the week, haven’t we? Whether you spent your Sunday rooting for a football team, Maddy from “Euphoria” or for Kanye West to log off of Instagram, there certainly was a lot of tension. And nothing helps ease tension quite like roses, Hallmark cards and overpriced chocolate. While the shift from a night of conflict to one of romance was jarring, it was not as startling as the weather, which somehow dipped from 50 degrees to –7 in the span of three days.
It seems that with each new dawn the Green gets covered in a fresh blanket of sparkly white snow. Dartmouth’s idyllic winter landscape is scored by the sounds of wind whistling through the icy trees, students stomping through their driveways and yes, the beeps and scrapes of an early morning snow plow. The skiway has been boasting phenomenal conditions and the snowboots your grandparents bought you have never gotten more use. We may have sprained our backs while shoveling our driveway, but with the granite of New Hampshire in our muscles and our brains, the pain can’t last too long, right? And anyway, we’ve got winter carnival and Valentine’s Day coming up so we have no time to drag our feet.
April might be the cruelest month, in the slightly melodramatic words of T. S. Eliot, but January is definitely the longest. Well, not in any mathematical way, but there is a scientific reason behind this phenomenon: There’s really not much to look forward to in January. And after an exciting, holiday-filled month like December, this absence of exhilaration and anticipation is particularly noticeable. To put it briefly, January is boring. And you know what else is boring? Week 5. Students go about their daily routines in a “Groundhog Day”-esque manner, and the only thing to look forward to is the end of midterm season, which somehow only ends when finals season begins.
Exciting things are happening here on campus. Occom Pond has opened up for ice skating, COVID-19 cases are beginning to drop and indoor dining is in full swing. Midterm season is also beginning and with it comes the chaotic but intoxicating hum of hasty library studying and late-night Novack snack runs. Call us sadists but there’s something comforting about the sight of stressed-out students, doing what students do best: procrastinate, grind, repeat. No? Just us? Ok never mind …
Say what you will about these frigid Hanover winters and their ability to quickly make you lose all feeling in your extremities, but you have to admit they’re pretty damn beautiful. Maybe it’s the fact that the moonlight reflecting on fresh snow through my window provides just enough mood lighting to accompany me on my walk to the kitchen for a midnight snack (just me?), or perhaps it’s the image of Robert Frost’s statue covered in a blanket of snow that is all too fitting. Whatever the reason, it’s not too difficult to find beauty amid the madness of mind-numbing sub-zero temperatures.
Here are some fun facts recapping week two so far: Campus was plagued by negative degree weather (-2 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact); the first snow of the term has fallen, followed by the annual midnight snowball fight; and we are pushing around 500 active COVID-19 cases on campus. In fact, this issue was edited remotely as most of us are either in COVID-19 isolation or awaiting a positive test result. And yet, campus feels eerily normal. The snowy landscape and bustle of students in warm layers look and feel familiar, although face masks peep through thick scarves and remind us that we are in the midst of a pandemic. On top of the usual winter-time stresses, like frostbite, seasonal depression and losing feeling in your extremities, we are also worried about contracting an airborne illness which seems to be growing faster than the line at the Hop during dinner time.
There really is something about the anticlimactic dropping of a 12 foot, nearly 12,000 pound ball that puts you in the mood for reflection. And, boy, do we have a lot of content to reflect on. As cheesy and Hallmark card-like as it sounds, 2021 was a year of embracement — a year that reminded us why being apart from our loved ones in 2020 was so difficult, a year that showed us how much we have to lose. Yet once again, we find ourselves entering a new year with more questions than answers.
Well, you know what they say — all’s well that ends well. But as we grapple with cramming for finals, packing for winterim and resisting the constant urge to belt the heart wrenching lyrics of every song on Taylor Swift’s re-recorded Red album, maybe ‘well’ is setting our expectations a little too high. Might we suggest a far more achievable motto: all’s well that ends. And what a peculiar ending it is. It almost feels too calm — no crazy end-of-term COVID-19 outbreak, no pandemic sending us packing for the foreseeable future and, perhaps strangest of all, no mid-November snowstorms to serve as a harbinger for the winter term ahead (but we don’t want to jinx it — knock on wood for us).
We’re not going to sugarcoat it: Week 9 is tough. Daylight savings means that the sun sets before 2As are even over — and in our final weeks of the term, it’s likely we’re all leaving the library well past the last flicker of daylight (unless you’ve pulled an all-nighter, but well, then you’ve got bigger issues). Your professors are likely scrambling to finish the course curriculum before the 10-week mark, and it’s possible that you’ve found yourself over a month behind on textbook readings that you’ve just discovered will, in fact, be on the final.
Well, it looks like spooky season hasn’t passed us by just yet. Halloween decorations that have overstayed their welcome linger ominously in front yards, the stress of finals lurks around the corner and — perhaps scariest of all — the end of fall term is approaching dangerously quickly. For some seniors, this will be the last New England fall they experience at Dartmouth. Just the thought of an October without fresh apple cider donuts and peak foliage is enough to spook even the most fear-loving among us.
It’s a weird time at Dartmouth: Fall foliage is post-peak, the usual sunny blue sky has been masked by grey clouds and we’re at the lull before the second round of midterms. At night, the humid air creates a murky haze over the lampposts that light the Green, replicating an eerie horror-movie scene. This weekend is also Halloween, which perhaps contributes to the unsettling nature of this week.
Blink and you’ll miss it — another Dartmouth term has passed its halfway point. And after a week-long, unseasonal warm spell, we’ve finally made our way into the chilly mid-October mornings that are oh-so-typical of New England fall. And you know what else is oh-so-typical? The ever-persistent cold that is passing through campus and the mid-week slump that seems to have its hold on so many of us. But it’s not too late to reignite that spark!
This past week has marked many firsts, and also many lasts. It was the first time that the ’24s and ’25s participated in the cult-like tradition of the Homecoming bonfire and felt the warmth of its extraordinary flames. For many ’24s, it was their first weekend of being affiliated with Greek organizations. It was also the first time that the many members of the classes of ’21 and ’20 came back to campus post-graduation. And for the ’22s, this weekend was the first of many lasts — our last bonfire as undergraduates. It’s not always easy for these important moments to sink in. But even if we aren’t able to appreciate them in the moment, we always have the memories to look back on.
There’s something so special about the energy of campus leading up to a big weekend. Maybe it’s the intersection of students studying for midterms in Baker-Berry with students stumbling home from frat row (because going out on a Monday is fine if it’s for the sake of tradition, right?). Or maybe it’s that unique, palpable sense of community and history that flows through campus as alumni trickle into Hanover. Week 4 is also that time of the term when students begin to solidify their communities on campus — whether that’s through Greek life, club sports, performing arts groups or even deciding to write for the school newspaper (which sounds pretty fun, in our completely unbiased opinions).
The chaos of a Dartmouth term is starting to kick in; we’ve seen students head from the stacks to the frats, swarms of ’24s anxiously waiting on frat row for rush events to begin and the sore sight of dark under eye circles from late-night study sessions. It's week three; we’ve got a lot going on. But honestly, would we want it any other way?
It’s that time of the year again: When the sticky summer nights fade into brisk autumn mornings, and we trade our Saturday morning paddleboarding for apple picking. And this year, the leaves aren’t the only thing changing. From first-year students navigating campus for the very first time to upperclassmen returning to a slightly unfamiliar College, all of us are grappling with changing perspectives.