Here's one of the many reasons why I thoroughly enjoy humanities classes: final papers and projects instead of final exams. I wrote three papers last week and completed a set of liner notes for an ethnomusicological (is that a word?) CD of Swedish hip hop, and, though I procrastinated furiously for a few days, I have to say they were some of the most fun finals I've ever written. (I also now know everything there is to know about the Swedish hip hop scene, which is strangely fascinating, given that it has no bearing on my life whatsoever. In fact, until Fall Break, when the lovely Brandi Ferrebee introduced me to Movits!, I harbored an unreasonable, unshakable, multi-year streak of loathing for any and all hip hop. Movits! turned out to be a gateway group into the world of Swedish rappers and DJs, and here I am, two months later, espousing its merits. Funny how that works out sometimes.)
So far, on the scale of rad: humanities classes are rad, writing finals was even more rad, and Brandi is raddest of all. If none of these apply to your finals experience, there's always the trump card of radness: Study Breaks. Sadly, I did not get to go to any of the campus-wide, organized breaks like Mudd dance parties or children's books readings, but I more than made up for this with my own set of fun and tasty things.
First, there was the dinner at my first-year seminar professor's house on Thursday, the second day of reading period. Sandy Zagarell, a marvelously engaging lady whose classes I would highly recommend, invited our whole class to eat because, apparently, she "just can't stand goodbyes." While I feel a little sleazy for taking advantage of someone's sentimentality to cop a nice meal that I don't have to pay for, I must say, it was a nice meal (and I didn't even have to pay for it). The pizza she ordered was fine, but it was really the company I was looking forward to; I've had so much fun discussing novels with that class over the course of the term that I was curious to see what would happen if we all sat in a room for several hours without a curriculum to harness our conversation. When the time came, Professor Zagarell's recently acquired young cat parked itself right in the middle of the room and broke the ice, and from there on out we talked about our winter terms, The Wizard of Oz, food allergies, and several dozen other unrelated things I'm forgetting. Notable moments included almost all of us running into a low-hanging lamp in the dining room at least once, and a plastic cup spontaneously shattering in my hand, spilling water all over an unfortunate classmate I was reaching across (sorry, MJ). I'm still not sure why I suddenly became the destroyer of cups, but it was postulated that it was cup suicide rather than spontaneous murder on my part, so perhaps I was not at fault.
Besides enjoying goofing around, I also appreciated just sitting in a house for a while. (There were rocking chairs!) Dorms are something I have learned to live with, but after you've been working, sleeping, and eating in your dorm for a certain period of time without leaving because you need to get finals done, a change of setting is very welcome indeed. That, and houses are just so cozy and relaxing. Dorms have never been able to replicate that sense of hominess for me, no matter how at home I've felt in them.
After the dinner party, I had to devote myself to my papers, all three of which were due on Saturday. My main motivation (besides the deadline): a Swiss fondue shindig my roommate had planned for the weekend. Apparently, it was the last meal her mom made for her before she came to Oberlin, and she'd been talking about doing it for a solid month in the most mouth-watering terms possible. Our friend Alex made bread for it Saturday morning, we finally got the necessary pots and ingredients assembled Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening, the fondue happened. A small crowd had assembled in the kitchen by the time it was ready, so we set up a table with bread and apple chunks in the corner opposite the stove, handed out forks, and basically all just shuffled in a circle, picking up food and dunking it in the cheese until there was none left. Then we sat down and had a good, collective cry because we all wanted at least three times as much fondue. It was unbelievably delicious.
With three-fourths of my workload out of the way, I allowed myself some productive procrastination on Sunday. That night was slated to be gift-unwrapping time for my circle of friends, but there was no Christmas tree to put the presents under and no paper to wrap them in. As this was clearly an unacceptable state of affairs, I set about creating makeshift substitutes. One green jacket, brown button-down shirt, string of Christmas lights, handful of origami Star Wars spaceship ornaments, and issue of The Oberlin Review later, I had the most adorable tree with wrapped gifts under it. I felt like a real college student when I was done. 'Poor man's wrapping paper'? Check. Creative license taken in the construction of substitute items? Check. Christmas on a budget? Proud check.
Needless to say, the gifts went over well. (I like to think my tree helped that along a little.) We all went back to our respective work with a little extra Christmas cheer tucked into our smiles. Finals? No big deal. With a little creativity, mad hard work, and morale-boosting breaks, anything is possible. Even meeting deadlines.
Disclaimer: I may be suffering from a false sense of security due to my only being a first-year. It is possible that future finals weeks will get progressively less rad. More on that as they happen.