Oberlin Blogs

Work it, dance it, write it.

March 6, 2009

In comparison to the first week of school, by the fourth week, I can tell a bit more where my energy is going. In short: everything takes five times the effort I originally expected. Sigh.

Admissions:

As an intern, my job is to interview prospective students, and assist the overall admissions process. I answer emails, work the front desk, speak with families, do filing. Right now, the counselors are working like mad, reading applications and meeting in committee. Each application gets read twice, then discussed in committee. Molly explained to me that the process is much more egalitarian here as compared to other colleges/universities. The first reader serves as the lawyer for the student, arguing their case to the rest of the admissions board. The decision is made by consensus, not solely by the dean.

Through this process, my respect for the admissions counselors has grown even larger than before. The sheer quantity of work they do is incredible.

Sco:

This week was a good one, dancing-wise. I grew up around music--my Dad ran a PA company, my grandmother has a Ph.D in music, my parents used to sing to me all the time. So when I need something to make me happy, music works best. Especially loud, silly music. On Wednesday, the Sco hosted Motown night, which got very, very crowded. I heard songs I haven't heard since election night, which was one of the happiest events of my life. The elation to "you can feel it all over " by Stevie Wonder was amazing, and the rest of the group was so alive. Whenever a mass of 100 people dance, there's so much energy generated that the mood becomes potent, electric.

Thursday's techno night was much more relaxed. My friend Daniel was DJ-ing--he played excellent trance. I met Daniel before school started: he's a first-year international student and I was catering some of the orientation events he attended. I remember working at a karaoke picnic, and arguing with him about which one of us should sing first. Anyone I can argue with is someone I want to befriend.

Yesterday, the Sco hosted a fundraiser for IYS (Immerse Yourself in Service) which hosted Triceratops, B-52s Cover Band, Bowie Band, and OSTEEL. Picture this entry, now add more hopeless noodling over how cool the Bowie band is. Their guitar players are ill, sick, ridiculous, and impressive. They turned "5 Years" into a rock epic. After the Bowie set, the crowd chanted "One more song!" or "Ten more songs! At my house!"

When we finished dancing, Ma'ayan invited myself, Yoshi, and Amanda back to Harkness for some pie. During the day, Ma'ayan and Daniel had made Derby, Bavarian Creme, and Chocolate-Coconut-Pecan pies.

Neurophysiology:

Some people speak Spanish, French, Chinese. My friends speak Science. If I didn't speak at least some pidgin Science, I couldn't understand them at all.

At Oberlin, I've taken Human Neurobiology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Abnormal Psychology and, at present, Neurophysiology. As much "vocabulary" as I've learned in class, I've gotten most of my grammar from my friends. I heard about Becca's woes with programming for experiments on childhood development, Alex and Jo Ling's fish, conversations on whether snails or crayfish would prove more effective for gathering data on neuronal membrane potentials.

I can tell I learned something in college because when I read this phrase at a normal pace: "'Cerebral activation patterns induced by inflection of regular and irregular verbs with positron emission tomography. A comparison between single subject and group analysis'" ... I understood it completely.

Three years ago? Not so much.

I wonder what my college career would have been if more of my friends spoke fluent Humanities. I might know about epistemology, determinism, or radical self-conscious ethnocentrism. As is, there's always more to learn.

Writing:

Creative Writing is a fascinating major--we don't have Honors, Capstones, or Theses. We just write, write, and write. This semester, I'm working with Chelsey Johnson and Sylvia Watanabe on a super-long project: The Novel.

Remember the Novella from last semester? That was the larva. This semester, I've gotta hatch a butterfly.

With Sylvia, I'm in a super-small workshop (five people) who are all top-notch kick-butt writers. Most of us were in Novella last semester, so we've got a feel for each other's styles already and have gotten comfortable being very constructive with one another. Workshops work when you can say to a writer: "This character? He's a jerk. He's not funny. He's not smart. Why is he here?" ... without being self-conscious.

With Chelsey, I'm going over the piece, full blast, each week. We did a close reading the other day and met for over 2 hours. It was great. Chelsey's focus is fabulism, a super-crazy writing style similar to magical realism, from writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Aimee Bender, and Ursula LeGuin. She gets my weird, post-apocalyptic romance stories.

Happily, my friends get it too, as the other language they speak is art. Making it, mostly, not analyzing. The mechanics of the creative process are so fascinatingly messy. All the rehearsals that take too long, the film shoots that die in poor lighting, the muscles pulled before the rehearsal, the paint splattered on new clothes, or hours of research for a character who will take up about a minute of script.

Even if we don't love the same thing, we love it in the same way.

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Responses to this Entry

really awesome blog.
i'm interested in applying here and (maybe?) majoring in creative writing.
it seems like such an enriching experience! :)

Posted by: Kina on March 21, 2009 11:42 AM

Thanks! I can tell you more about the department, if you're interested. It feels like half of the bloggers are writing majors, so you can get a feel of how we roll.

Posted by: Aries on March 28, 2009 9:10 AM

hello! I have a question about creative writing. Do you know any international students who take CW? or is it generally too hard for students whose first language isn't english? I love writing... but in Catalan or spanish which are my first languages. I think it would take me a while getting comfortable with english. What do you think, should I try?

Posted by: Miguel on April 19, 2009 6:59 AM

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