Favorite aspect of Connecticut College: The small size of campus was initially odd to me, but once experiencing the weather of the East Coast, it quickly became one of the features of campus I’m most thankful for. If you’re like me, you believe in neither rushing nor walking quickly, so a campus where the farthest academic building is a seven-minute walk from your residence hall is a match made in heaven. Somehow, I have since become lazier, without shame, and now skateboard everywhere cutting commute times down to two minutes.
Favorite memory at Connecticut College: My family doesn’t really do much for Thanksgiving, and since Chicago is a bit far from campus I’ve never gone home for it. Fortunately, I’ve met some amazing people at Conn and a random hodgepodge of us came together for a weird Friendsgiving my junior year, despite many of us not knowing one another. It sounds like it would be an awkward occasion, especially for someone who gets nervous sweats when people smile in their direction, as I do, but it was absolutely perfect. I haven’t felt such a warm environment since running around in a onesie while drooling as a kid at Christmas. That was a really special moment.
Favorite activity in New London or the region: It's not directly in New London, but there is a used bookstore nearby called “The Book Barn” that is arranged similarly to a mini golf course. However, instead of there being an obnoxious challenge to overcome at each hole, there are small cozy shacks with different genres of books inside of them! The best part is that almost every single book, excluding new releases, are less than $4!!! As someone who has loved books and bargains since elementary school, this is my go-to place when I need to escape from humans and have some quality time with myself.
Most of the student body heads home for Thanksgiving, but since I’m from Chicago I tend to stay on campus and enjoy the comforting isolation. Some might find it a bit creepy to be the only person living on their floor for four days, but due to my being a hermit in training I look forward to this time each year more than I do Christmas. I get an immense feeling of liberation from inhabiting large spaces entirely alone, leading to many hours of singing as loud as possible and dancing in my undies, and maybe once without, in the hallway during my one-man parties. This year, however, I wanted to focus on developing some of my more socially acceptable skills. So whenever I wasn’t having my private bachelor parties, I found myself picking up my long forgotten flute.
In an ideal world, I’d be able to call myself a rebel, disregarding social structures and disrupting standard functioning. Although it’s extremely cliche, the bad boy factor seduces me, being so far from the precautious worrywart I truly am, and I’ve never been fond of rigid discipline. I’ve convinced myself that my inner rebellious attitude is why I have made pitifully slow progress with the cello the past three years, an instrument that screams discipline, because it surely can’t be due to my lack of regular practicing. If you’ve never played a string instrument, count yourself lucky. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing the cello, but the fact that placing my finger a literal centimeter off results in a different, and often squealing, note has always been discouraging, especially when it seems like that's the majority of the sounds I produce. Meanwhile my other hand manipulates a bow, which also requires its own techniques, so you can understand why I sometimes question if I’m a masochist, willfully subjecting myself to this wondrous yet torturous device.
It’s my theory that growing up in an urban environment causes people to have an inherent connection to music and dance, although not everyone is blessed with the rhythm to match. As a result, while I may walk and run with stiff, questionable posture, I can bust quite a few unexpected moves on a dance floor. It could also happen to be in my room, kitchen, a hallway, while running on the treadmill; anywhere I can listen to music doubles as my shameless stage. Generally, I avoid doing so in front of large groups of people, but last weekend I had to power through my anxiety to audition for Eclipse, the largest student-run dance show, for my final year at Conn
This past month, one of the most driven members of our student body, Shameesha Pryor ’17, organized the second Black Women’s Conference hosted at Conn with the assistance of the Africana Studies Student Advisory Board. Although the first conference was held in 1969, the need for this event has not diminished, just as the injustices and double standards black women face daily certainly have not. It goes without saying that the Earth is fortunate to be graced with the melanin of black women, but this is also a group often pushed into archetypal roles not representative of their humanity and actual experiences. Instead, they are viewed as the angry, strong, or sassy black woman. This conference shattered those narrow perceptions and stereotypes of black womanhood, and provided a space for people to discuss the complexities that come with being a black woman in today's world.
I’ll be honest and say that senior year of college is a very wild time. Not wild as in “party party!!”, although that definitely occurs, but moreso wildly introspective as in “Oh lord, what is my life becoming and how has it ended up here?” A solid portion of my time is spent blankly staring into the distance worrying how I’m going to convince employers that I’m worth paying and why people are already sending me bills as if I can afford them. I won’t even delve into the odd transitions occurring in the amounts of body of hair I’m growing in various places, and the fact that I’m pretty sure I’m starting to hear my joints creak.
Every time I admit to someone that my favorite class this semester is chemistry, the conversation usually becomes a miniature interrogation. People don’t seem to believe that it is a possibility, and until this semester I would have vehemently agreed. Let it be known that my choosing to major in one of the natural sciences at Conn was not because I excelled at them in high school. I wasn’t the worst, but since I preferred understanding larger scale things like earth sciences and biology, I would walk to chemistry with a good deal of dread every day. I wasn’t comforted when, upon entering college, I learned that a semester of it was required for my major. I’m not a human without flaws, and I will openly admit that I waited until the last possible moment in my senior year to take the class. However, my irrational fear and shameful procrastination is validated by knowing that I am one of two seniors in my class of otherwise first-years.
Before I arrived at Connecticut College, I had never really been interested in hearing the sound of my own singing voice, perhaps because my older sisters never hesitated to tell me it was similar to a cat in heat. Even so, I decided to audition for an a cappella group last year, just for fun. I must say that I was EXTREMELY surprised when I was accepted into the amazing group that is Vox Cameli. I didn’t realize that a cappella is sort of a hot commodity on the East Coast, with groups frequently being the entertainment at Conn’s events. While I’m quite confident that only one-third of the notes I sing are ever right, that hasn’t stopped me from getting on a stage yet, and our performance for Green Dot Week was no exception.
Despite my enthusiastic participation in it, I will never hesitate to say that a cappella is probably the weirdest extracurricular I have done in my life, excluding my scarring musical theater days. The universal love of singing attracts unlikely groups of people, and although it’s not quite as dramatic as the movie “Pitch Perfect,” a cappella culture is fascinating. I got an in-depth look at this phenomenon during spring break when I visited Williams College and Brown University with my group, Vox Cameli, during our “Premiere Tour.” While we graced these campuses with our lovely voices, I realized my favorite part of a cappella occurs once the performances are over; a cappella after dark. I’ve found that the only thing that can be expected to occur after a performance is a sing-off, the result of two singing groups realizing they’re too awkward to socialize.
Saying “I am a social person”, and “I can turn into an iridescent flightless dragon” are very similar sentences in that they are both substantial lies. I can’t draw a dragon nor fathom how extroverts stop themselves from screaming every time they feel obligated to say hi to acquaintances they encounter. Oddly enough, I sometimes like inhabiting social spaces, acting as a silent observer, and after 21 years of observing I feel confident saying that I’ve perfected the art of people watching. While my hobby may seem boring to most and creepy to the rest, I always enjoy myself and love that I can do it anywhere either by myself or with a fellow creepy friend. For this reason alone, I decided to get gussied up and leave my room to watch the members of my class year party into the night at “100 Days.”