It was fourth grade. We stood in the cafeteria line. “Girls can’t crack their knuckles,” proclaimed one of the boys. My yet-to-be-defined feminist senses were tingling. I responded, “I can crack my knuckles!” So I did, and I kept cracking my knuckles. I thought it was cool. Over time, cracking my knuckles turned into cracking lots of other areas of my body.
This semester, I’ve been taking a cognitive-behavioral therapy course. Our semester-long project is to correct a maladaptive habit, so my first thought was to try to work on my knuckle-cracking. The habit itself doesn’t really bother me, except for its occasional inconvenience. What bothers me more is that the habit tends to bother other people. I’ll crack something and gross out my company.
On October 14, I celebrated my 21st birthday. If you are expecting a narrative of crazy college debauchery, I am here to offer you something more uncommon. It’s a look at how you can have an extraordinary birthday on an ordinary Connecticut College weekday.
I awoke at probably the most ridiculous time of day for a college student: 5:45 am, the official time of my birth. My birthday cards that had arrived from family and friends over the past few days lay unopened in a pile by my bed, expectantly waiting for October 14 to arrive. I used my early rising as an opportunity to have a little celebration by opening the cards and looking at some early morning birthday Facebook posts. My celebratory morning did not last too long, though; what would a Connecticut College birthday be without three classes in a row to attend, starting at 9 a.m.?
Fall Weekend at Conn has a lot of fun events. There’s Harvestfest, where a variety of campus clubs sell food and memorabilia; a cappella and music department concerts; Green Dot sporting events, which raise awareness for our domestic violence and sexual assault prevention program; and, this year, a keynote speech by Sloane Crosley, author of “The Clasp.”
If your parents are unable to visit, though, it can get a little lonely as friends are off with their families. Conn always hosts a dinner for those of us whose parents don’t attend. The meal was Jasmine Thai and Mirch Misala takeout for those of us in this situation, which is great. (I mean, who would turn down free Thai and Indian food?)
But I lucked into an even better deal: My friend Miranda and her mother invited me to hang out with them on Saturday. The highlight was a classy meal at the Norwich Inn and Spa. I was treated to a decadent dinner of green salad, tiramisu, filet mignon and molten chocolate lava cake. We sat for hours taking about art history, life in Portland (they’re from Maine), and our latest romantic interests. It was nice to dress up, get off campus and catch up with a good friend. So, an utmost thank you to the Shinns for taking me in for the weekend — I had a lovely time.
As my father and I finished unloading our packed SUV in early September, I began to get rather nervous. My dad was getting ready to leave and then I suddenly shouted the words, “I’ll see you in October!” Was it really going to be October when I would see my family again? I grew rather upset because I am very close with my family. We have always been tight-knit, and what partially drew me to Conn was its proximity to New York City, which meant an easy trip home. Except, this semester, I haven’t gone home once!
Fall Weekend at Connecticut College is a time for celebrating the fall and seeing your parents, all while trying to attended every event the College puts on. This year was only the second time my family came for Fall Weekend; their first visit came during my first year.
During my first year, I was craving some mothering and TLC while also trying to prove to my family that I was a successful college student. This year, I was trying harder to savor my last Fall Weekend by balancing my event attendance with time spent simply hanging out with my family.
On Thursday, Oct. 1, instead of meeting with QPOC+ (Queer People of Color and Allies) in the LGBTQ Center, I decided, along with the rest of the people coming that day, that we would go to a small discussion about drugs, alcohol and the purported “hook-up” culture at colleges. This was to be at Coffee Grounds and held the promise of free baked goods, so the decision wasn’t that difficult. Plus, it’s nice to do inter-club stuff sometimes.
The discussion was co-led by CC Curtis, director of student wellness and alcohol/drug education, and Darcie Folsom (a campus celebrity in her own right), the director of sexual assault prevention and advocacy. I know both CC and Darcie through various events, Orientation and run-ins at the College Center. The setup of the discussion was pretty simple: notecards went around and anyone could put in a question if they wished. This was done for the sake of anonymity — something most of us greatly appreciated. Prompted by the question, we’d freeform into answering that question through the lens of our own experiences, and CC and Darcie were there to help us with their more professional experience, as well as a bunch of the research they’d conducted or were aware of.
I am not afraid to say this because, like so many other people in the world, I am a slow reader. I am a slow reader, but also have a language-based learning difference, which makes it hard for me to decode languages. When reading something, I'm often slow, impatient and resort to skimming rather than actually reading. When I was in high school, my school began offering what it called the 1-1 Laptop Program, where each student and teacher was given a laptop for academic use. These laptops were loaded with software that would help each student become a better reader and writer. Enter Read&Write Gold, a computer program designed for students like me with struggles in decoding language.
Meet Alberta. She’s a loveseat, and the newest edition to my friend Emma’s room. Emma and I live in Knowlton residence hall, the language dorm on campus known for its spacious rooms. Looking to provide comfy seating for guests, Emma turned to Craigslist. That’s where she found Alberta, and I was recruited to help pick her up. A couple hours later, we had made an unexpected friend.
After a 20-minute drive to nearby Stonington, Emma and I found ourselves lost among the streets of a winding beachside neighborhood, so we called the woman who was selling us the loveseat for directions. I won’t mention her real name, as it would make her uncomfortable, so instead I’ll call her Marybeth. Marybeth was hesitant to let us come to her house or give us her phone number, but since she couldn’t fit the couch into a car to meet us somewhere else, she reluctantly agreed.
One of my favorite activities growing up was apple picking with my family in Chester, Pa. Since arriving at Connecticut College, I’ve only gone apple picking once, and that was when I went home for a weekend. This year, however, I visited Holmberg Orchards in nearby Gales Ferry, Conn., about 20 minutes from campus.
Four friends and I set out on a Saturday: three of us from the East Coast who have picked apples many times, and one from California who had never visited a fully-functioning orchard. Together, we drove to Holmberg Orchards, and we were not disappointed.
When applying to colleges, religious life on campus was not on the top of my list. I was more focused on schools with strong academic support, strong student-faculty relationships and small class sizes. What I was not expecting upon my arrival at Conn a year ago was Hillel. I started attending Hillel events on Friday nights to ease my homesickness during the Sabbath, but did not quite realize the role it would take on this fall.