Oberlin Blogs

A September Saturday in Oberlin

September 12, 2020

Claire O’Brocta ’23

I was supposed to be at a music festival in Chicago this weekend.

I bought my ticket in January (back when concerts were still a thing), the day I arrived on campus for the spring semester that was cut short. Only one band had been announced by then, but I loved them so much I was willing to buy a three-day pass, sleep on my friend's floor, and eat plenty of snacks beforehand so I wouldn’t have to pay for overpriced festival food.

Obviously, none of that ended up happening. The festival was postponed to September 2021 (with several more bands announced now), so instead of crashing on a friend’s floor in Illinois, I spent the night in my own bed in Ohio, whereas a double-degree student, I’m one of the few third-years living on Oberlin’s campus.

Plans change, now more than ever in the days of a global pandemic. But just because I’m not in Chicago doesn’t mean my Saturday went to waste. I’m writing this blog to walk through the third Saturday of my third year at Oberlin, which despite the circumstances, actually turned out to be pretty eventful.

I started my day with a relaxing morning at home, but by 11 a.m. I was out the door with multiple destinations in mind. First up was the Oberlin Farmers Market, which is open downtown from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. I had never been to the farmers market here before, but now that I live in an on-campus apartment and have my own kitchen, I’ve been cooking a lot of my meals and figured it would be great to have fresh ingredients and support local businesses while doing so.

When I walked into the market area, I was greeted by sweet guitar music and surrounded by socially distant people and dogs alike. The atmosphere was pleasant, and the sunny 75º weather didn’t hurt either. After visiting four different tents, I ended up with zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberry jam, and chocolate chip cookies. I’m very excited to cook with the vegetables and snack on the sweets (I’ll admit I’ve already tried a couple of cookies), and since the market’s open until October, I’m looking forward to stopping by in the coming weeks as well.

After gathering my newly purchased food into my drawstring bag, I was on my way to the second stop of the morning: Art Rental. In the past, Art Rental has involved waiting in line at the Allen Memorial Art Museum overnight, with a $5 fee for each piece of artwork you rent, and a maximum of two pieces per person. You can read about previous Art Rentals in blogs such as these to get a taste of how the experience normally is. 

This year, the process was different. Instead of multiple overnight check-ins at the museum, you could walk right up, any time between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. (although it was so popular that they sold out well before 3). The usual fee was waived, but we could only pick one piece instead of two. A socially distanced maze through the museum led potential renters up to the second floor, where we could choose a piece to take home out of a group of 5-7 works by renowned artists. I enjoyed getting a glimpse at what was on display as I waited. What better place to queue than inside an art museum? Overall, fall 2020 Art Rental was a simple, effective process, and now I have a Japanese baroque print to hang on my living room wall.

It was a sweaty walk home through the sun, with a bag of food on my back and a large piece of art in my arms, but well worth it. Besides, I had time to recover. After getting home from my morning adventures, I had a nice window of downtime before my 2 p.m. responsibility: one of my campus jobs.

I’m super grateful that I’m able to have multiple jobs on campus that are entirely remote. It’s my third year as a blogger, which has been remote all along and therefore has made an easy transition to the world of COVID-19. My second job, as a Studio TA for the TIMARA department, is new to me this semester. It’s remote as well and is the one I had at 2:00 today. Today, that job consisted of logging gear rental information into the new system we have for online checkouts this year. Being able to rent sound equipment and other related gear is one of the perks of being a TIMARA major, so I’m happy to help the process adapt to the pandemic.

Not too long after my job wrapped up for the day, it was time to get started on schoolwork. One of the six classes I’m taking this semester is Research Methods I in the psychology department. Research Methods I is a research project-based statistics class that fulfills a requirement in my environmental studies major. Two of my good friends are psychology majors and taking the class too, so the three of us teamed up (with a fourth classmate) for our research project. It’s still early in the semester, so our Zoom call today included deciding on the research questions we are going to pursue.

Over the next few hours, I spent time with friends, both on Zoom and in person, until it was time to cook dinner. Tonight, I made sheet pan fajitas, which were delicious. I miss the communal effort of cooking with others in the co-ops (which are temporarily closed this semester), but I can luckily still share what I cook with my two housemates. In my opinion, sharing what I make with others is one of the best parts of cooking. One of my housemates ate dinner with me tonight, and they gave the meal rave reviews, so I call that a success.

Ever since dinner, my housemates and I have just been chilling together in our living room. I really enjoy having people to live with, not just for the sharing of food, but also for the constant connection to others it provides, a connection that’s harder than ever to achieve in the context of a pandemic. With a significant number of my friends at home (due to the non-conservatory juniors having the fall semester off), I’m especially grateful to have two of them right under my roof.

As the night comes to an end, the thought of the music festival I was supposed to be at right now still lingers in my mind. But, even without it, I enjoyed my Saturday. I hope this glimpse into my day shows you what weekend life can be like at Oberlin in these strange times, and that even if you don’t get to do what you originally planned, good things can still happen.

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