Oberlin Blogs

My holiday update letter

December 24, 2009

Okay, so it's been a really, really long time since I've posted. (You should see the lovely and amusing e-mails that Aries sends me, hoping to tempt me into blogging. I've kept them like treasured reminders of Aries' love and care in my inbox, waiting until this very moment to finally respond.) Since it's been so long, I'll ease you in with a quick catch-up on my life since September.


Classes:

I had a coveted seat in the "Shakespeare and Metamorphosis" 300-level English class with new English Department whiz kid Professor Hyman. I loved every moment of the class, from her quotable comments on Shakespeare and Ovid to my classmates' insights on classical literature and drama, philosophy, and poetry to shocking revelations about plays I thought I knew. (For instance, upon Romeo and Juliet's meeting, they finish each other's rhymed couplets, forming their own love sonnet from their conversation. That's how we know that despite being juvenile, they really are into one another. Also, when Romeo gets called out - "swear not by the moon!" - Juliet is also trying to break him of his habit of speaking in Petrarchan verse, the standard and trite way of expressing love at the time, and by doing so she essentially says "Okay, player. Show me you're for real by saying something halfway original, okay?")

Oberlin History as American History is one of the few classes I honestly think should be required for Oberlin students (but also staff and faculty, really). The first half of the class is all about the town (with relevant bits about the college thrown in), from its radical founding as a religious and educational colony through its arguable "golden age" of radical ideas about race, sex, war, and education. The second half students could either do an independent project or work with Oberlin High School history students to do oral histories with local community members. This theme of this year's projects was women's history in Oberlin between roughly 1960 and 1980. The ability to get to know the community in which you live both academically and personally was incredible. It turns out that a friend of mine from town was directly involved in the fight that led to the Episcopal Church allowing women to become priests! I also enjoyed this class because I am a giant Oberlin trivia nerd, and now I can submit friends and acquaintances to unsolicited factoids more accurately.

You know how almost every American little girl takes ballet class? Well, I didn't. I fulfilled an aspiration this semester and took Ballet I. I learned very quickly all about the pursuit of the perfect port de bras, or shaping of the arms (something I will never come close to reaching), stringing together freshly learned movements into a dance (something at which I was amusingly horrible), and spotting during turns (something at which I was surprisingly skilled). Ballet was a great reminder that college shouldn't just be about strengthening your mind, and I enjoyed being able to take several hours a week to focus on listening and working with my body in a class that didn't require outside homework of me. It was also exciting to try a dance form that didn't strictly rely on the interaction between two dancers. (Up till now it's been all swing and tango for me, allowing me to be pretty reliant on a partner helping me look good.)

I love art and museums a little too much for my own good. (Goodbye, AMAM! I miss you already!) I've taken a couple of art history survey classes, but I decided to finally dig in a little deeper, so I chose Baroque art as a result of my hopes to get to know Caravaggio a bit better. Though the class was a bit more of a traditional lecture-and-papers course than I'm used to at Oberlin, we got to go to Oberlin's art museum several times (Did I mention I love the Allen? I love the Allen) and the Cleveland Museum of Art, and we also got some great lecturers on early modern history. Mostly I took in a LOT of information about the intersection of religion, science, and personalities in the creation of art.

Sadly, I was ExCo-less this semester, but I hope to dig back in next semester.


Work

I've been carrying on as a Senior Intern for Admissions, which means that I'm generally busy as all get-out with interviews, responding to e-mail questions, following up after interviews, chatting with visiting families, and doing "other tasks as assigned." Other Tasks As Assigned is a running joke among current and past interns and the office staff, since this generally ranges from some filing all the way up to waking up at 4:30 am to drive into Cleveland to meet with local high school counselors to talk about Oberlin. My most recent Other Task has been working on a flip-book sort of thing that shows off notable alums. While I haven't yet found a suitable excuse to slip in David Walker, I've enjoyed combing through Wikipedia pages for information on my favorites, who include Jewel LaFontant-Mankarious, Charles Martin Hall, Ed Helms, John Mercer Langston, and Julie Taymor. Over Winter Term I'll be doing lots and lots of filing as applications pour in. I'll even be there on my birthday, the 4th anniversary for me of interviewing for Oberlin (the first time) and meeting Clyde.

On varied afternoons, I also have the pleasure of sitting for President Krislov's redheaded fireballs and for Ben Jones' elementary-aged sons. This is always a fun adventure, since I never babysat much before this year and because the only immediately obvious similarities between the kids and me is that we spend a lot of time learning and have really busy parents. We get to learn lots about each other's lives. I especially get to learn lots about American Girl dolls and Transformers. It's also a guilty joy to have the opportunity to out my higher-ups on such things as Twilight posters in their laundry rooms and magnets of their faces photoshopped onto Indiana Jones' body. (Guess which one is guilty of which!) Not unlike my Oberlin History class, the biggest joy I get is out of having the opportunity to get to know such awesome people (both adults and minors) personally.


Extracurriculars

The Oberlin Swing Society pulled off the Hooverville Stomp workshop this fall. I say "The Oberlin Swing Society" because planning and putting up a workshop of any caliber is a group job, but especially swing workshops with four instructors coming from four corners of the country to teach 3 days of lessons with dancing from 10am to 4am. Those kinds of workshops require at least several people to sacrifice up to months of their free time to planning and paying for said workshop. (Thankfully, the Student Finance Committee distributes funds from students' activity fees to student organizations, allowing clubs like us to do all sorts of fun things without having to worry about raising the money to afford it.) Miraculous Monica headed it all up, kindly limiting my insanity to hosting the instructors in my house, making dinner for the band that played at our big Saturday night dance, and decorating that dance with cardboard Hoovervilles and newspapers scrawled with anti-Hoover graffiti, much to my nerdy joy.

There is a batch of almost 30 students who transferred to Oberlin in August that I can proudly say don't seem to need my guidance. Though I have been their Academic Ambassador, they have a great RA on the transfer hall in Danny (I was his RA on the hall last year) and are getting along exceptionally well as far as I can tell. Soon I'll be creepily stalking down all the mid-year transfers to be their guide to Oberlin.


Personal

I'm living in an off-campus house with three roommates and a cat. The reason for this, since I'd otherwise be perfectly content to live in a campus-owned dorm room or apartment, is that Miriam, baker extraordinaire, wanted to live with me and a cat. Miriam is one of my best friends, a stress baker, and the creator of a four-layer cake covered with chocolate butter cream icing and strawberries for my birthday last year. I am not dumb. I did precisely what she wanted, and out of the deal I got two other awesome house mates: Alani, an amazing makeup artist, and Gabe, our ultimate frisbee-playing man of the house. Pepper is an adventure-seeking grey calico who likes being adored, warm spots, and rearranging objects left out around the house. The humans in the house tend to be amused by our contrasting eating preferences, since Miriam and I are firm omnivores, Gabe is kosher, and Alani is vegan. We spend a lot of time running all over campus and drinking tea.


So there's an overview of a semester in my life. I promise to keep you up to date on a far more regular basis from here on out.

Read more from this author

Leave a Comment

Similar Blog Entries

Emily
May 22, 2020
While learning from home these past few months has been challenging, the invitation my teachers provided to think about the pandemic through so many different lenses has truly helped me make sense of what is going on in my own life and also the world.
View most recent blog entries